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Civil Liability and Sex Crimes in Georgia: Aggravated Sodomy – OCGA 16-6-2

Aggravated Sodomy in Georgia

 

Welcome back to our ongoing discussion of sex crimes and how the criminal and civil justice system work together to help the victim. Last week, we talked about OCGA 16-12-100, Georgia’s child pornography law. This week, we’ll talk about OCGA 16-6-2, which deals with aggravated sodomy.  Importantly, this article is not meant to help educate people who have been charged with aggravated sodomy.  It is instead intended for victims and their families.  We will go through the rules that apply in Georgia and what to expect in a civil lawsuit against all people and entities that may be responsible.

 

The Legal Definition of Sodomy in Georgia

Both anal and oral sex acts are defined as sodomy under Georgia law.

 

(a)

(1) A person commits the offense of sodomy when he or she performs or submits to any sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another.

 

Sodomy used to be a crime in Georgia, even with the valid consent of all parties, and the text of OCGA 16-6-2 still refers to it as such. Before the late nineties, oral and anal sex were punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

 

(b)

(1) Except as provided in subsection (d) of this Code section, a person convicted of the offense of sodomy shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years and shall be subject to the sentencing and punishment provisions of Code Section 17-10-6.2.

 

Among teenagers close in age, sodomy was a misdemeanor.

 

(d) If the victim is at least 13 but less than 16 years of age and the person convicted of sodomy is 18 years of age or younger and is no more than four years older than the victim, such person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall not be subject to the sentencing and punishment provisions of Code Section 17-10-6.2.

 

The criminalization of private, not-for-profit sex acts between individuals who can and do legitimately consent to them has since been ruled unconstitutional, so this aspect of 16-6-2 is no longer enforceable. However, the rest of the statute is still important, because it deals with aggravated sodomy.

 

The Definition of Aggravated Sodomy

Aggravated sodomy is any oral or anal sex act performed by force and without the consent of all participants. Statute 16-6-2 also defines any act of sodomy involving a child under 10 to be aggravated sodomy.

 

(2) A person commits the offense of aggravated sodomy when he or she commits sodomy with force and against the will of the other person or when he or she commits sodomy with a person who is less than ten years of age. The fact that the person allegedly sodomized is the spouse of a defendant shall not be a defense to a charge of aggravated sodomy.

 

Just like vaginal rape, which we’ve discussed before, marriage is no defense in cases of aggravated sodomy.

 

Consequences of Aggravated Sodomy

Aggravated sodomy carries a minimum mandatory prison sentence of 25 years. A judge may extend this sentence as far as life imprisonment, and any sentence shorter than life will be followed by lifelong probation.

 

(2) A person convicted of the offense of aggravated sodomy shall be punished by imprisonment for life or by a split sentence that is a term of imprisonment for not less than 25 years and not exceeding life imprisonment, followed by probation for life. Any person convicted under this Code section of the offense of aggravated sodomy shall, in addition, be subject to the sentencing and punishment provisions of Code Sections 17-10-6.1 and 17-10-7.

 

Funding for Evidence Collection

To help ensure sexual assailants are caught and convicted, the survivors of aggravated sodomy are not required to pay for the evidence collection step of their medical exams.

 

(c) When evidence relating to an allegation of aggravated sodomy is collected in the course of a medical examination of the person who is the victim of the alleged crime, the Georgia Crime Victims Emergency Fund, as provided for in Chapter 15 of Title 17, shall be financially responsible for the cost of the medical examination to the extent that expense is incurred for the limited purpose of collecting evidence.

 

The Georgia Crime Victims Emergency Fund covers this part of the process, regardless of the survivor’s finances or insurance coverage.

 

What Damages Can You Recover as a Survivor of Aggravated Sodomy?

There are generally two ways to recover money after being subjected to rape.  The first is from the attacker himself.  This is sometimes accomplished through court-ordered payments.  You can also file a civil claim, which can include battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, economic losses, and even punitive damages. Despite how obvious this claim sounds, it is rare for a victim to directly sue her attacker in civil court.  This is because the attacker must have assets to pay the losses to make up for the time, expense, and emotional trauma involved.

In addition, money can be recovered from another person or organization that created the conditions that make the crime possible.  This includes property owners that turn a blind eye to crime on their premises, companies that hire dangerous people, and even organizations that allow sexual predators to volunteer with them.  These claims are usually are covered by insurance policies held by the business or organization.  These claims typically fall under O.C.G.A. 51-3-1, which imposes a duty on property owners/occupiers to do their best to limit lawful guests’ exposure to dangerous conditions. In situations where property owners can’t mitigate a threat, it becomes their duty to warn potential victims. If a person is raped in part because an attacker seized an opportunity resulting from a property owner’s failure to implement a reasonable amount of security, victims can seek compensation for this lapse.  You can learn more about this topic on our page dedicated to the area of law known as premises liability.

 

Who Monetary Damages Are You Entitled To?

The damages you can sue for will be divided into two categories: special and general.

 

Special Damages Are Losses with a Quantifiable Dollar Value

Any form of forced sexual intercourse has the potential to cause serious physical harm. Forced anal intercourse in particular is likely to cause internal injuries. Medical bills for the care you’ll need beyond evidence collection will probably be one of the first expenses you’ll face as a survivor. These bills are also one of the more straightforward examples of special damages. Other special damages can be more complicated to calculate, but are still rooted in your finances. For example, if you lost your job, or even missed a few shifts, because you were busy taking care of yourself after the assault, that lost income qualifies as special damages. Unfortunately, lost earning power often follows survivors of sexual violence long after the initial attack, so your settlement should account for your probable lifelong losses, not only those that have happened so far. Mental healthcare will also likely be an important part of your recovery process, and should be treated as just as essential as your physical care. To learn about how the Wetherington Law Firm can help you calculate your losses and prove that they were caused by your attacker, click here.

 

General Damages Are Losses Affecting Non-Financial Parts of Life

No amount of money can ever truly make up for the injustice of an act of sexual violence having happened in the first place. The effects of sexual trauma cannot be bought off and will often last a lifetime regardless of the survivor’s financial situation. However, these effects should not be dismissed and forgotten when determining a civil settlement either. The general damages portion of a settlement is intended to account for non-financial forms of harm, including pain, fear, and physical or emotional obstacles to living a normal life. Although assigning a dollar value to emotional wounds may be challenging and uncomfortable, general damages settlements can serve as a warning to potential future perpetrators, give survivors the additional financial flexibility they need take life at their own pace, and sometimes offer a sense of closure. Because general damages are inherently subjective in value, it’s especially important when pursuing them to have a talented lawyer to explain the full magnitude of what you’ve lost.

 

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

Pursuing compensation from your attacker after a sexual assault is a stressful process, fraught with practical, emotional, and social obstacles. At a time when what you need is to be believed and supported, you will be facing scrutiny, doubt, and ridicule from your attacker’s legal counsel, and possibly from other sources as well. A good lawyer will not only advocate for you in court, but also offer moral support and reassurance, and take as much of the work off your plate as possible, so you’re only subjected to re-traumatizing situations when it’s absolutely necessary to your success. In addition, civil proceedings can be surprisingly complicated, even in far less emotionally charged scenarios, and your chances of success are always better if you have a professional to talk you through your options, your best moves, and any points of confusion you may have. If your goal is to take the compensation you deserve, having an expert in your corner is invaluable.

 

How to Hire the Best Lawyers for Sex Crime Survivors in Atlanta

When you’re working to rebuild your life after surviving an act of sexual violence, the last thing you should have to worry about is how hiring legal representation will affect your finances. At the Wetherington Law Firm, our purpose is to help survivors get the financial compensation they deserve. If our clients can’t access justice because of their finances, or end up going into debt over legal fees, we’re not doing our job right.

 

That’s why we work only on a contingency basis. We don’t bill by the hour, or charge any fees at all beyond a percentage of the settlements we win. We only get paid when you do.

 

To talk to a lawyer today about the details of your case, just give us a call at 404-888-4444 or reach out through the contact form on the right.

 

The Wetherington Law Firm Wants to Change the World for the Better

If you’re looking for more than just compensation for your own physical, emotional, and financial injuries, the Wetherington Law Firm wants to hear from you. We welcome chances to tackle and solve problems that affect others in addition to our own clients. If you believe your attack was a symptom of a toxic internal culture in a business, school, or other organization, we’ll take the fight to them as well as to your individual attacker. In addition to a financial settlement, we’ll help you leverage your case to push for changes that will protect potential future victims. To learn about what we’ve helped other clients accomplish for the greater good, just reach out and ask!

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you or a loved one were a victim of sexual assault, we can help.

At the Wetherington law firm, we understand how difficult it can be to come forward. To learn about how we’ve helped other clients make their communities safer, just give us a call and ask.

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