Filing a Civil Sexual Abuse Claim in DC

In many circumstances, civil sexual abuse and assault cases take place in a larger context where a criminal investigation or trial occurs. When this happens, many people are uncertain how the criminal case may impact a civil case, or how the lack of a criminal case may impact the validity of a civil claim. Below, John Yannone discusses the interaction between criminal and civil cases in DC. However, this is not a substitute for consulting with a DC sexual abuse victims’ lawyer who can review your case free of charge.

Is There Typically A Criminal Investigation For Sex Abuse Claims?

Typically, there is an investigation, but it just depends on how long the period between the incident and the time of reporting is as to whether a criminal investigation can be conducted. For instance, if it is reported contemporaneously or soon after, then there will be a full criminal investigation, but the further it goes out affects how much of an investigation can be done.

But typically there will be some sort of investigation unless there have been many, many, many years in between the incident and its reporting, and even then, there will still be at least some type of investigation, particularly if additional victims come forward.

Does It Hurt The Civil Case If No Criminal Charges Are Filed?

It doesn’t necessarily hurt the case, but it’s nice to have a criminal conviction because in many jurisdictions, that criminal conviction can come into evidence in the civil case which is obviously helpful. Not having a criminal conviction doesn’t necessarily hurt, but the absence of one might raise issues in the jury’s mind as to why there weren’t criminal charges or a conviction. So I would say on the whole, not having a criminal conviction doesn’t necessarily hurt but having a criminal conviction certainly can help.