What Is Sexual Abuse Under New York Law?
Fortunately, the state of New York punishes an extensive range of sexual abuse and assault, deeming any non-consensual sexual contact/act a crime. Some examples include the following:
- Unwanted fondling, kissing, or bodily contact with sexual intent
- Forced masturbation
- Forced oral copulation
- Sexual acts achieved through coercion
- Sexual acts achieved through violence or the threat of violence
- Forcibly using a body part or foreign object to penetrate another person
- Engaging in a sexual act with a person who cannot legally give consent
Groups who are considered unable to grant consent in the eyes of the law include people under the influence of alcohol or drugs, those deemed physically helpless, those who do not have the mental ability to understand the acts are sexual, and children under the age of consent (in New York, the age of consent is 17, but this differs from state to state).
Please note that this list is not exhaustive. A good rule of thumb to determine whether you experienced sexual assault is whether you gave consent or not, and whether a reasonable person could see that the act was inappropriate. However, it is common for victims of sexual abuse and assault to be shaken up about what happened due to trauma and shock. It is, therefore, advisable to seek the help of a medical or legal professional to discuss what happened.
Legal Options for Survivors
In New York, sex abuse survivors can either file a civil case or a criminal case, or both, to hold their abuser accountable. If you are seeking to recover damages from your abuser for pain and suffering, medical bills, or the like, a civil case is likely the best option. Most victims pursuing a civil case do so with the help of a professional attorney.
On the other hand, victims pursuing a criminal claim will be minimally involved in the case against their abuser, as it will take the form of a legal battle between the abuser and the state of New York. If the abuser is found guilty, the result will be a conviction and prison time. Therefore, victims filing criminal cases will not be able to receive nearly as much compensation as they would from a civil case.
Time Limit for Filing a Claim in New York
As with any legal claim, sexual abuse claims must be filed within New York’s statute of limitations, which greatly changes according to which form of sexual abuse you were subjected to. In some cases, the statute of limitations is as short as two years after the date of the abuse; in others, it can be as long as 20 years.
For childhood sexual abuse claims, the statute of limitations was recently updated via the Child Victims Act, which allows survivors of child sex abuse until the age of 55 to file a claim. In addition, a new filing window for civil claims previously considered outside the statute of limitations is open until August 14, 2021.
With such a variety of filing deadlines, it is advisable to consult with an attorney to determine which statute of limitations applies to your case.
Our Lawyers Believe Sex Abuse Survivors
The Zalkin Law Firm has believed sex abuse survivors and fought for their right to justice for more than two decades. We are committed to putting survivors first and always providing them with compassionate legal service free of any judgment. For our impactful work and unique approach to handling sexual abuse claims, we are often featured by reputable media outlets, such as The New York Times, CNN, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.
When you are ready to discuss your case with a seasoned legal professional, The Zalkin Law Firm is here to help. Let us assist you in seeking the justice you deserve.
Contact The Zalkin Law Firm online today to schedule a free consultation with an award-winning New York child sex abuse and sexual assault attorney.
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