If you have been accused of rape, your case may be criminal or civil or both.  An alleged rape victim (through a criminal prosecutor) may press criminal charges or they may chose not to press criminal charges and just sue; however, an alleged rape victim may both press criminal charges and sue for monetary damages.

The criminal and civil justice systems are two separate and distinct systems. In the criminal system the Government, through the prosecuting attorney, is always the plaintiff or the party who is bringing the action to court. It is not the alleged victim, but the prosecutor who pursues the case. A criminal case is brought with the purpose of serving the public’s interest in reducing the incidence of criminal conduct in society by means of punishment, rehabilitation and applying principles of justice. In the criminal system, a defendant, if found guilty, may be ordered to serve jail or prison time, pay fines and restitution if any, complete community service, take classes with a counseling agency or comply with other conditions that are appropriate for the individual case.

The civil system, by contrast, generally deals with matters like divorce, adoption, employment discrimination, personal injury, contract disputes, and bankruptcy, as well as many other types of cases. The primary focus of the civil system is to adjudicate or resolve conflicts that arise between individuals. The civil system in many instances can operate to reduce criminal conduct in society by offering individuals a viable means to resolve their differences in a civil manner rather than resorting to illegal self help measures that may escalate to violence. The civil court system resolves conflict between individuals by awarding one or more of the parties to a lawsuit a remedy which may include monetary damages caused by the wrongful conduct of the person being sued. Other types of remedies requested in the civil system are declarations of a individual rights pursuant to a specific law, injunctive relief in which the court orders one of the parties to perform a legal obligation or even orders them to stop some action they are not legally entitled to engage in. Unlike the criminal system, private parties bring cases in the civil system.

photo: Orin Zebest
photo: Orin Zebest

Cassandra was a princess of Troy during the epic Trojan War. She was so beautiful that she attracted the eye of the God Apollo who promised her the gift of prophecy in return for sexual favors. Cassandra agreed, received the gift of prophecy, and then refused to have any sexual relations with Apollo. Apollo cursed her for this. Cassandra retained the ability to perfectly predict the future, but no one ever believed her or even listened to her warnings. Everyone deemed Cassandra a raving lunatic.

Accusations of rape and sexual assault are often met with the same skepticism as Cassandra’s predictions were. Many sexual assaults remain unreported because of the skepticism they attract; accusers are often, immediately thought to be lying. In such cases, the only repercussions are for the victims: ruined credibility, and perhaps additional violence. These feelings about rape may be due to the very personal aspects of the crime. It is both an intimate and absurdly violent act. There are rarely eyewitnesses which can reduce the facts to a he says/she says situation of credibility. No matter the reason for reporting/not reporting the rape, the way in which the law deals with the crime must be improved. If you find yourself in a matter of false rape accusations or involved with charges of sexual assault where little to no facts are present, the most important thing is having a confident criminal defense attorney.

About a week ago in Great Britain an 8-yr-old girl confessed in court to lying about being raped by two 10-yr-old boys. She told one of the defense lawyers that she voluntarily slipped down her pants and undergarments after the two boys exposed themselves. Her motivation was to prohibit any punishment from her mother for being “naughty”. This was an extremely serious lie as 10-yr-olds can be tried as adults in criminal cases in England. The small girl did at one point state, “They said if I didn’t pull down my pants” the boys wouldn’t give her back her scooter. Dealing with children in court is a very difficult business.  However only a few lawyers are well equipped to defend children, knowing how to explain things at their level. If you or your child is involved with criminal charges it is very important to hire the most qualified attorney who can keep your child from being treated as an adult. Also important is finding a defense attorney who can spot lies in adolescent accusers/witnesses who may not know the consequences of their lies. (Neilan, AOL News)