Sexual Abuse - Plaintiff Law

Evidence and Proving Sexual Abuse in a Lawsuit

This content contains sensitive subject matter related to sexual abuse.

When a victim of sexual abuse takes their case to civil court, they have to prove the defendant is liable for causing the victim’s injuries. Proving a civil sexual abuse case means presenting evidence and testimony that supports your case.

Some cases only have circumstantial evidence of abuse, but you can still win a case even without much proof. If you want to know what you must do to prove sexual abuse in civil court, talk to a local sexual abuse attorney for advice.

What Evidence Can I Use To Prove Sexual Abuse?

In a lawsuit, evidence is information that makes the existence of a fact more or less likely. In a civil lawsuit, evidence can be used to support the plaintiff’s case and prove the defendant is liable for damages.

In sexual abuse lawsuits, evidence can include:

  • Medical records, such as the results of a rape kit or records of ongoing treatment
  • Social media posts, emails, text messages, or voice recordings
  • Police reports
  • Mental health provider notes showing the extent of suffering
  • DNA evidence and other forensic evidence
  • Witness statements

Evidence is important in all kinds of criminal and civil cases. If you have anything, either just information or actual physical evidence, related to your case, hold onto it. Your attorney will know what to make use of that can strengthen your case.

What Is the Burden of Proof in a Civil Sexual Assault Lawsuit?

The burden of proving the case falls on the plaintiff, who is usually the victim of abuse. You have to show you meet all the elements that sexual abuse happened by a “preponderance of the evidence.” A preponderance of the evidence means you must convince the jury that the defendant is more likely than not responsible for the abuse.

The burden of proof in a civil lawsuit is lower than in a criminal sexual assault case, where the prosecutor needs to prove all elements of the sex crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That means if a juror has any doubt about any of the elements, they should not find someone guilty under criminal law.

Because the standard of proof in a criminal trial is higher than in a civil case, it is possible that someone could be found not guilty in the criminal justice system but is found liable in a civil case. Victims of a sex offense may still get compensation in a civil trial even if the abuser is never convicted of a sexual assault charge in a criminal case.

Can I File a Sexual Abuse Civil Case Without Physical Evidence?

Sometimes a sex offender commits their crime without leaving any physical evidence. You may still be able to win your case without any physical pieces of evidence.

Sexual abuse cases can be filed years after the date of the sexual contact, which is typical for child sexual abuse cases. However, even where you don’t think there is any evidence, your lawyer may be able to find evidence to support your claim. You may be able to get access to the abuser’s social media accounts, email correspondence, or photos putting the victim and abuser in the same place at the same time. And a victim’s testimony is often the most critical part of a sex abuse civil case where there isn’t much corroborating evidence.

This is why the choice you make in legal representation matters. Before you decide that you don’t have a case, talk to a sexual abuse attorney to find out how they may be able to help you recover compensation for the abuse you suffered.

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