It’s hard to fathom the repulsiveness that is child sexual abuse. It’s critical that justice be served to its fullest extent in these situations. Most people understand the role that criminal justice has in these circumstances, and we hope that those guilty of these kinds of crimes get what is due. Criminal justice, though, only goes so far. By working with an Albuquerque child sexual abuse lawyer, you can seek the damages that are owed in these circumstances.
The victims certainly must feel some sense of peace knowing that the perpetrators are locked away, but that doesn’t provide any kind of restitution for what they have suffered. It’s important that civil justice also be a part of the process.
Child sexual abuse can leave someone with lifelong psychological issues that need to be addressed. It’s impossible to fully describe the effects of this kind of crime. The victims deserve restitution for what they’ve suffered.
It’s the civil process that allows for that opportunity. Unlike the criminal process, it’s not just the perpetrator who can be held liable but also others who may have created the circumstances for the crime to take place. At Berenson & Associates, PC, we know how to pursue what these victims deserve while handling the situation with the sensitivity that they need.
In a child molestation case in Albuquerque, NM, there are several parties that can be held liable for these heinous crimes in a civil case:
The perpetrator of a crime is themselves, obviously a potentially liable party. Even if they weren’t found guilty in a criminal court, the perpetrator may be liable in civil court, which has a lower burden of proof than criminal court. Civil responsibility for a crime, though, may extend beyond the perpetrator.
Criminal law exists to address situations where someone does things that humans in a society simply cannot do to each other. Civil law, though, is the recognition that, in a civil society, we owe each other a level of effort to not cause or allow harm to each other. This is not the same as choosing to cause harm but rather inadvertently causing harm.
When we fail to take appropriate action to these ends, while we may not be criminally responsible, we are still responsible. This is true of many child sexual abuse scenarios as well. There were often parties who should have taken reasonable measures to prevent harm from coming to the child.
In child sexual assault cases, these are often people who have, for some period of time, a responsibility to provide care and watch over the children. Places like daycares, churches, schools, and other institutions that are responsible for children must also take reasonable measures to protect those children. If something happens on their watch, and they have failed to take reasonable measures to prevent it from occurring, then they may be liable.
Another possibility is that property owners could be liable. Property owners, particularly those properties that invite the general public to their facilities, have a duty to provide a reasonable level of security. In situations where they are found to have not provided sufficient security when there was a foreseeable risk of a crime occurring, they may also be civilly liable for what happened.
Proof of child sexual abuse in a civil case can be slightly different, depending on who the defendant is.
If the defendant is the perpetrator, then your lawyer needs to show that they committed the crime, although with a lesser burden of proof than in a criminal case. Even if they weren’t criminally convicted, it’s still a good idea to talk with a child sexual abuse lawyer about your case.
If it is a third party that is the defendant, the process of proving liability is a little bit more complex. What your child sexual abuse lawyer must first establish is that the defendant had a certain level of responsibility to take reasonable measures to provide security for the child. What these are may vary from case to case.
In many cases, a reasonable expectation is determined by what is the standard in an industry. One of the strengths of civil law is its ability to be fluid and adjust to new standards. For instance, the standard of security, background checks, and other precautionary measures in a daycare may exceed what normal business regulations require. If so, there is a chance that the threshold may then be whatever the industry generally does and not just the law.
Civil law can also adjust beyond a standard and simply address what makes sense. For instance, whether a property should require a certain level of security doesn’t need to conform to some standard for that type of property.
It just needs to be reasonable to the court that these measures should be taken. As long as your child sexual abuse lawyer in Albuquerque can persuade the court of what should have been done, that is the bar by which the defendant will be judged.
It’s worth noting, also, that these must be measures meant to address concerns that were foreseeable in the given situation. If there was no reason to expect the possibility of something, then there is no reason for security of a certain level. In cases involving children, though, it is difficult not to argue some level of foreseeable threat. Often, the court has a high expectation for how children, as such a precious gift, should be protected.
Once the expectation of precautionary measures has been set, your child sexual abuse lawyer must show how the defendant failed to reach those measures. This can work differently, depending on the particulars of your case.
It may be not having enough security, surveillance, or physical security measures, such as lighting, fences, and locks. The failure could be an absence of proper procedures to ensure that kids are released to the proper guardians. It could even be something like inadequate background checks. The key here is that the court must be persuaded that the measures taken were insufficient compared to what could reasonably be expected.
Your child sexual abuse lawyer must show that the absence of the precautions that should have been reasonably expected led directly to the crime and victimization of the child. This can be a little more challenging to prove, as it’s almost impossible to know for certain what would have happened in a different scenario.
Your lawyer must construct a narrative for the court, listing all the ways that better security measures and precautions could have deterred or intercepted the perpetrators before the crime was committed. Potentially, security experts may be brought in to help explain what the additional measures could have done.
Finally, it needs to be shown that the crime was committed. Without the crime, no one can be held liable, so your child sexual abuse attorney must prove that it actually occurred.
Although a child sexual abuse claim is a variation on a personal injury claim, it does not follow the same statute of limitation as a standard personal injury claim. In particular, it’s understood that, for minors, it is not always easy to come forward with these kinds of issues.
Therefore, the statute of limitations doesn’t really start until they reach the age of majority, which is usually 18 years of age in New Mexico. This means that, in most cases, victims will have until they turn 24 to file a claim. There is also the possibility that the abuse may be repressed in the victim’s memory, so there are some cases where the victim may be able to file at a later date if they didn’t discover what happened until later.
There are few things as offensive, repulsive, and damaging as child sexual abuse. It’s hard to put into words how much our heart breaks, knowing that this occurs and meeting the victims. We can, though, take a little bit of solace in knowing that we can help victims seek some level of restitution.
Our firm understands, of course, that these aren’t the kinds of things that can be solved by money. Nothing can restore the innocence that child sexual abuse takes away. Our hope, though, is that a successful claim can give these victims space, access to resources, and reduced stress in other aspects of life. This can give them the opportunity to work on addressing all the consequences of this kind of abuse.
Any time a topic as sensitive as this one is involved, it’s important that anyone you bring into the situation is able to manage it appropriately. The child sexual abuse lawyer you hire for this kind of case is no exception. There’s a sensitivity and care that is necessary in these kinds of circumstances. We can fight to get our clients what they deserve without the process being a burden to them.
At Berenson & Associates, PC, we respect that there has already been significant pain and trauma. We aren’t looking to add to that but hopefully help, in some small way, to create a path to healing. If you have a case that you are ready to discuss with us, contact us today.