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What Is the Difference Between Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault?

What Is the Difference Between Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault?

Sexual abuse and sexual assault, though often used interchangeably, technically denote different offenses within the context of the law. In general, these terms take on the following meanings:

Sexual Abuse

The term sexual abuse is typically (but not always) associated with crimes against minors under 18 and encompasses any forced or coerced sexual act placed upon a child by an adult or older adolescent. This can range from direct physical contact to non-physical interactions such as exposure to explicit content.

Manipulative tactics are commonly employed, exploiting the trust that is often freely given in relationships between children and the adults in their lives.

Sexual Assault

This term generally addresses sexual crimes against adults. It includes any type of sexual activity performed without explicit consent or against the will of another adult, ranging from unwanted touching over clothes to forced penetration (rape). 

In Minnesota, sex crimes are categorized as criminal sexual contact, and the degree of the crime depends on the circumstances of the act and the age of the victim.

Penalties for Criminal Sexual Contact

Sentencing for sexual crimes depends on the specific classification of the offense committed.

Acts such as rape or child molestation are usually classified under severe classes of sexual criminal conduct, and perpetrators may face up to 30 years of imprisonment, pay a fine as high as $40,000, or sometimes both.

Why Hire a Lawyer if You’ve Experienced Sexual Assault or Abuse?

If you’re a victim of sexual abuse or assault, it is highly beneficial to hire a lawyer for several reasons: 

Help Reporting the Crime to Law Enforcement

Reporting such traumatic incidents to the police can be an overwhelming process. Having experienced legal counsel by your side allows smoother navigation through the complex procedures involved. A lawyer can help you understand what to expect when you report the crime and what will happen next. 

Help With the Overall Criminal Process

Once the crime is reported, having a lawyer to aid in the navigation of the criminal process can be an invaluable asset for victims of sexual abuse or assault. Your attorney will help you understand each stage of this process – from preliminary investigations and assembling evidence to preparation for trial.

Initiate Civil Claims

Civil claims provide another legal avenue for victims of sexual abuse or assault to seek justice outside the criminal system. Unlike criminal charges – which are prosecuted by the government and can lead to punishments like imprisonment or fines – civil lawsuits are initiated by private individuals (in this case, you, as the victim) and seek monetary damages.

This financial compensation could cover various forms of inflicted pain and suffering resulting from the incident, including psychological distress, therapy costs, lost wages, and more. These are known as economic and non-economic damages.

Civil lawsuits can target not only the perpetrator, but also other entities that may be indirectly liable. For instance, you might have a claim against an employer for negligent hiring or supervision.

Your Attorney Will Establish Liability

One of your lawyer’s central roles will be to prove liability in a civil claim related to sexual abuse or assault. To do this, they will gather and present necessary evidence showing how the defendant’s intentional or negligent conduct led to the assault and how it caused damages. 

Your attorney’s strategy might include collecting documentary proof like medical reports and eyewitness testimonies, which can corroborate your claim. 

Depending on the circumstances, they might also work with experts in various fields who can provide impactful testimony about your cases. For example, a psychologist might testify to emotional trauma suffered as a result of such a traumatic event.

Always Work With a Qualified Sexual Abuse Lawyer

Money won’t take away what happened, but it provides a way for you to seek justice and hold the abuser responsible. If you’ve been the victim of a sex crime, justice can be sought. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with a sexual abuse lawyer.

Contact the Minnesota Sexual Abuse Law Firm of Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys For Help Today

For more information, please contact an experienced sexual abuse lawyer at Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys to schedule a free initial consultation today. We have three convenient locations in Minnesota, including Minneapolis, St. Cloud, and Edina.

We proudly serve Hennepin County, Stearns County, and its surrounding areas:

Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys – Minneapolis
825 Nicollet Mall, Suite 615
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(800) 292-1979

Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys – St. Cloud
1010 W St Germain St # 320
St Cloud, MN 56301
(320) 255-1000

Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys – Edina
5200 Willson Rd #203
Edina, MN 55424
(952) 697-5560

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