Oregon Sexual Assault Attorney
Our Results Improve the Legal Landscape for Sexual Assault Victims in Oregon
Sexual assault is an act of violence and a crime. More specifically, it can be described as any form of undesired sexual behavior. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), approximately 433,648 sexual assaults occur each year in the United States. If you or a loved one were a victim of sexual assault here in the state of Oregon, Dwyer Williams Cherkoss Attorneys, PC can help.
Our team of sexual assault attorneys comes with many years of experience. We are trauma-informed advocates who work closely with victims of sexual assault to ensure that all of the proper legal options are assessed and pursued after a sexual assault incident.
Let Us Help You Obtain the Justice You Deserve
Take the first step today by requesting a free, confidential case evaluation from our firm.
Take the first step today by requesting a free, confidential case evaluation from our firm.
Protecting Victims of Sexual Assault in Oregon
Different Types of Sexual Assault
There are many different types of sexual assault that affect men, women and children. There were 1,975 reported forcible rape cases in the state of Oregon in 2018. Keep in mind, this number does not include the many other types of sexual assault. Sexual assault also includes:
- Rape and attempted rape
- Forced sexual acts of any nature
- Sexual exploitation
- Any unwanted penetration
- Any groping or unwanted touching
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What To Do After Experiencing A Sexual Assault
First and foremost, always report it immediately. Some victims are afraid to report sexual assault for many different reasons. They may be scared of retaliation. Or, they may think that it will go away if they try to pretend like it never happened. Unfortunately, these mindsets often allow the offender to avoid prosecution and conviction.
Reporting sexual assault right away also better helps preserve evidence, such as DNA and other belongings from the scene of the crime. A police investigation will give the victim the best chance of winning a sexual assault case.
Once the sexual assault has been reported, medical treatment is the next step. Once medical treatment has been received, it’s time to contact an experienced sexual assault lawyer. These cases can be extremely complex. It is essential that a sexual assault victim receive the proper guidance and instructions right from the get-go to ensure that the legal process is handled correctly on the path to justice.
Sexual Assault Warning Signs
Understanding and recognizing potential sexual assault warning signs is critical, and you could save someone’s life by noticing the signs. If you notice certain behavioral changes in a close friend or loved one that seem out of the ordinary, it’s possible that sexual assault took place. As we mentioned earlier, many victims feel uncomfortable about speaking out. For this reason, if you notice any of the following warning signs, it is important to step forward and address it to protect your loved ones from further harm.
Here are some potentials signs that someone is a victim of regular sexual assault:
- Inexplicable injuries
- Medical symptoms that are not very well explained
- Sudden changes in behavior, such as unwillingness to speak, engage or socialize
- Self-harming behavior
- Changes in self-care, such as paying less attention to hygiene
- Signs of depression
- Drinking or drug use
- Expressing thoughts about suicide
If you know of someone who is being sexually abused, there are several things that you can do to help. Start by having a conversation with the person. Let the person know that you are there to support them. Ask what you can do to help. Encourage them to seek help. Provide them information on resources that can help, such as the National Sexual Assault Hotline. It is open 24/7 at 1-800-656-4673.
Sexual Assault Laws in Oregon
Every state has its own set of laws when it comes to sexual assault. Below are some of the important components of Oregon law that are essential to understand when dealing with a sexual assault case.
Statute of Limitations
- For rape in the first degree or sexual abuse in the first degree, prosecution against the perpetrator of this crime must commence within twelve years after commission of the offense.
- For rape in the second or third degree or sexual abuse in the second degree, prosecution must commence within six years.
- For sexual abuse in the third degree, prosecution must commence within four years.
- For sexual misconduct, prosecution must commence within two years.
There is no privilege for communications between a rape crisis counselor and a sexual assault victim. However, Or. Rev Stat. 409.273(2)(b) provides that all information relating to clients that is maintained by a sexual assault crisis center or crisis line be confidential.
Or. Rev. Stat 40.230 states that a patient has a privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent any other person from disclosing confidential communications made for the purposes of diagnosis or treatment of the patient’s mental or emotional condition among the patient, the patient’s psychotherapist or persons who are participating in the diagnosis of treatment under the direction of the psychotherapist, including members of the patient’s family.
What Can You Sue For In A Sexual Assault Case?
When it comes to sexual assault cases, there are several things that a victim can sue for depending on the circumstances. It’s also important to note that sex crimes are punishable under both Oregon and federal law. In criminal cases, it will depend if the case is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony.
A sexual assault victim can also pursue justice through a civil claim. Here are some of the things that a victim may be eligible to receive compensation for:
- Pain and suffering. This includes physical, mental and emotional pain.
- Medical expenses. Not only can a victim sue for any medical expenses that occurred due to the sexual assault, but ongoing treatment (such as counseling) may also be covered.
- Loss of wages. If a victim was unable to work or lost a job due to the sexual assault incident, wages can be awarded as a part of the compensation.
Punitive damages. These types of damages are often awarded to make an example of the guilty party to dissuade similar behaviors from others in the future.
Oregon sexual assault lawyers with experience in handling these difficult insurance issues could be instrumental in helping a victim recover their rightful compensation through the perpetrator’s insurance coverage.
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Sex Abuse Penalties in Oregon
Oregon has several laws to protect the victims of sexual abuse and rape. Punishment for such crimes in Oregon vary depending on several factors, such as the nature of sexual abuse involved, the victim’s age, and whether the perpetrator of the crime held a position of authority.
Class A Felonies
These include first-degree rape in the first degree, sodomy in the first degree, unlawful sexual penetration in the first degree, or using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct. Punishment may include imprisonment for up to 20 years and fines of up to $375,000.
Class B Felonies
These include second-degree rape, second-degree sodomy, or second-degree unlawful sexual penetration; and first-degree sexual abuse or online sexual corruption of a minor. Punishment may include imprisonment for up to 10 years and fines of up $250,000.
Class C Felonies
These include third-degree rape or sodomy; second-degree sexual abuse or online sexual corruption of a minor; buying sex or unlawful contact with a minor; and first-degree custodial sexual abuse. Punishment may include imprisonment for up to five years and fines of up $125,000.
Class A Misdemeanors
These include third degree sexual misconduct; contributing to a minor’s sexual delinquency; second degree custodial sexual abuse; and unlawful presence in an area where children usually congregate. Punishment may include imprisonment for up to one year and fines of up to $6,250.
Class C Misdemeanors
These include sexual misconduct. Punishment may include imprisonment for up to 30 days, and fines of up to $1,250.
Even though the burden of proof in a civil case is lower than in a criminal case, a criminal conviction does not guarantee that the victim will prevail in their civil claim. Thus, regardless of the results of the criminal prosecution, the victim needs to seek the advice from an experienced civil sex abuse attorney in Oregon to determine whether they have standing in a civil claim, and if so, to maximize their recovery for the damages they have suffered.
3 Strikes Law in Oregon
Charges of rape or sexual assault are usually classified as a Measure 11 sentence, with an imprisonment ranging from 75 to 100 months in most cases.
However, in Oregon the “3 Strikes Law” is also applicable, whereby an offender convicted for the third time for a felony sexual offense could be imprisoned for life without parole. Indeed, the Oregon legislature recently strengthened this law, allowing some offenders to be sentenced to life in prison after their second offense.
Apart from jail time, even a non-Measure 11 sexual offense in Oregon requires the convict to register as a sexual offender for the rest of their life. This could adversely impact their future employment and housing opportunities and create other socio-economic hurdles. It also puts potential employers on notice that they may commit similar acts so that, if hired, the employer could potentially be held liable if the person does so while on the job.
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What Compensation Can a Victim Collect in a Civil Case?
There are many potential civil claims a victim can make concerning sexual abuse they have suffered. Some examples include civil child abuse laws, Oregon’s Abuse of Vulnerable Persons Act, civil assault, civil battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and so-on. Assuming the victim can prove their case, they are entitled to damages for having suffered the sex abuse.
Damages can include past and future medical expenses, past and future counseling expenses, past and future wage loss, past and future impairment of earning capacity, lost employment benefits and noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages include things like pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, humiliation, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, or any other interference with your normal daily life.
Only an experienced Oregon sex abuse attorney can accurately tell a victim whether they have a viable case under Oregon’s sex abuse laws, and if so, the reasonable value of their damages. And only an Oregon sex abuse attorney who is willing to take that case to trial, if necessary, can get full compensation for the victim of sex abuse.
If I was sexually assaulted, at what point should I call a lawyer?
The best answer is, as soon as possible. Your statements to a potential lawyer are privileged and they can help you determine the best way to maintain the integrity of your case.
In criminal cases a lawyer from the District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the perpetrator, but a crime victim may also have a personal attorney appear on their behalf during the criminal case to assert their rights as a crime victim. In Oregon, crime victims have constitutional rights. Many of these rights go into effect automatically, while others must be requested through your local District Attorney’s office or Juvenile Department. Victims’ rights include the right to:
- play a meaningful role in the criminal or juvenile justice process.
- be treated with dignity and respect.
- receive fair and impartial treatment.
- receive reasonable protection from the offender.
For more information on Oregon Crime Victim Rights, see (the attached PDF.)
In a civil case, for monetary compensation, you will need a personal injury attorney to represent you. Ethical, experienced lawyers who represent victims in civil suits for money damages do not charge money “up front” or work by the hour when representing survivors of sexual abuse. Generally, the survivor only pays the lawyer a portion of the damages recovered. The lawyer advances all of the costs and expenses involved in bringing the lawsuit, and is only repaid when there is a recovery. In the rare case where there is no recovery, the survivor owes nothing.
Having A Lawyer On Your Side
Sexual assault cases are very complex. Beyond the complexities of these cases, they are also very emotionally draining for the victims and their loved ones. For these reasons and more, if you were the victim of sexual assault, you need a sexual assault attorney on your side to handle all of the pertinent details of the case. A sexual assault lawyer will also work hard to make sure that you come away with the justice and compensation that you deserve.