Thursday, December 13, 2012

The California Civil Code Provides for Additional Penalties Related to Gender Violence Including Sexual Assault

California Civil Code § 52.4.  Action for damages against party responsible for gender violence

(a) Any person who has been subjected to gender violence may bring a civil action for damages against any responsible party. The plaintiff may seek actual damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, injunctive relief, any combination of those, or any other appropriate relief. A prevailing plaintiff may also be awarded attorney's fees and costs.
The statute goes on to defined "gender violence" as follows:




(c) For purposes of this section, "gender violence," is a form of sex discrimination and means any of the following:

 (1) One or more acts that would constitute a criminal offense under state law that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, committed at least in part based on the gender of the victim, whether or not those acts have resulted in criminal complaints, charges, prosecution, or conviction.

(2) A physical intrusion or physical invasion of a sexual nature under coercive conditions, whether or not those acts have resulted in criminal complaints, charges, prosecution, or conviction.

This provides the victims of sexual assault another avenue of recovery that allows for "actual damages" like medical bills, the cost of future medical bills (including psychiatric treatment), "injunctive relief" like stay away orders that keep the offender from contacting the victim, and any reasonable attorney's fees and costs associated with prosecuting the civil claim.  In addition, the statute clearly indicates that a prior criminal prosecution is not necessary to bring this civil action.

For more information on assistance for victims of sexual assault and abuse in California go to:
http://www.victimslawyer.com/sexual-assault-abuse/

For further resources to assist victims of sexual violence in California go to:
http://calcasa.org/