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Civil Liability and Sex Crimes in Georgia: Sexual Battery

Sexual Battery Cases in Georgia Explained

Today, we’ll talk about sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery, which are covered by OCGA 16-6-22.1 and OCGA 16-6-22.2.  Importantly, this article is not meant to help educate people who have been charged with a sexual crime.  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 arising from sexual battery in Georgia.

 

What Is Sexual Battery?

Under OCGA 16-6-22.1, sexual battery is defined as intentional, nonconsensual physical contact between a perpetrator and the private parts of a victim’s body. Private parts include the pelvic area, the buttocks, the inner thighs, and in the case of female victims, the breasts.

 

(a) For the purposes of this Code section, the term “intimate parts” means the primary genital area, anus, groin, inner thighs, or buttocks of a male or female and the breasts of a female.

(b) A person commits the offense of sexual battery when he or she intentionally makes physical contact with the intimate parts of the body of another person without the consent of that person.

 

All a sexual battery conviction depends upon is contact, intent, and lack of consent. Contact through clothing still counts as contact, and there is no need to prove that the victim was physically harmed.

 

What Makes Sexual Battery Aggravated?

Aggravated sexual battery, on the other hand, involves nonconsensual penetration of the victim’s body in a private area, as explained in OCGA 16-6-22.2.

 

(b) A person commits the offense of aggravated sexual battery when he or she intentionally penetrates with a foreign object the sexual organ or anus of another person without the consent of that person.

 

Penetration with a penis is covered under other statutes, but penetration with anything else falls under sexual battery.

 

(a) For the purposes of this Code section, the term “foreign object” means any article or instrument other than the sexual organ of a person.

 

This includes penetration with other parts of the perpetrator’s body, such as the fingers.

 

Criminal Consequences For Sexual Battery

For a first-time offender, non-aggravated sexual battery is a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. A judge may choose to impose a fine of up to $5,000 and jail time of up to a year.

 

(c) Except as otherwise provided in this Code section, a person convicted of the offense of sexual battery shall be punished as for a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.

 

 

For repeat offenders, and in first-time cases where the victim is under 16, sexual battery is a felony with a minimum sentence of one year and a maximum of five.

 

(d) A person convicted of the offense of sexual battery against any child under the age of 16 years shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.

(e) Upon a second or subsequent conviction under subsection (b) of this Code section, a person shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned for not less than one nor more than five years and, in addition, shall be subject to the sentencing and punishment provisions of Code Section 17-10-6.2.

 

Aggravated sexual battery carries the much higher minimum sentence of 25 years, with the possibility for life in prison, regardless of first-time offender status or the age of the victim.

 

(c) A person convicted of the offense of aggravated sexual battery 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, and shall be subject to the sentencing and punishment provisions of Code Sections 17-10-6.1 and 17-10-7.

 

Perpetrators of aggravated sexual battery who are released from prison will be on parole for life and must register as sex offenders. Repeat offenders for non-aggravated sexual battery are also required to register.

 

What Damages Can You Recover as a Survivor of Sexual Battery?

You have the right to choose when, whether, and how you are willing to receive sexual contact. Having this right disregarded can cause harm that extends far beyond the moment of the act itself. If someone touched you without your consent in any of the ways described above, you are entitled to recover for any resulting damage to your emotional wellbeing, your financial circumstances, and your health. Let’s take a closer look at the two kinds of damages you can seek compensation for.

There are generally two ways to recover money after being subjected to assault.  The first is from the attacker himself.  This is commonly accomplished through court-ordered payments.  You can also file a civil claim, which can be for the assault itself, but also 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 a perpetrator in civil court.  This is because the attacker must have assets to pay for your losses (and most criminals don’t).

Most often, money is recovered from other people and businesses that helped create the conditions to make the assault inevitable.  This includes property owners that turn a blind eye to crime on their premises, companies that hire dangerous people, and organizations that allow sexual predators into their group.  These claims are typically 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.

Once a claim is established through a civil law firm like us, the damages typically fall into two categories:

 

Damages with Specific Monetary Values Are Called Special Damages

If the battery you suffered forced you to leave a job or school program, your lost income and earning potential count as special damages. Your medical expenses also qualify if you were physically injured, received psychotherapy, or need therapy now. A fair special damages settlement should account for the full effect the incident of sexual battery has had or will ever have on your finances. Because of how lasting the effects of sexual violence can be, this number may be challenging to calculate, but the Wetherington Law Firm can help you take a thorough inventory. We’ll also help you prove in court that your expenses were directly or proximately caused by the perpetrator’s battery of you. To learn more about direct and proximate cause, click here.

 

Damages Without a Financial Component Are Called General Damages

Obviously, even if you were able to carry on with your life completely without medical or other financial consequences, that wouldn’t make the perpetrator’s actions toward you acceptable. The feelings of fear and indignity inflicted upon you are important as well, as is any physical discomfort you suffered. These kinds of non-financial damages, known as general damages, are assigned value in court as well, separate from the total of your special damages. Because they are not based in finance, general damages can be even more difficult to calculate fairly, so it’s absolutely essential that you have a good lawyer on your side to impress upon the court the seriousness of what you’ve been through.

 

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

In addition to taking stock of your damages, proving their cause, and advocating for their true value to get you the best possible settlement, a good lawyer can be an indispensable guide and source of moral support throughout the legal process. At the Wetherington Law Firm, we understand that holding sexual offenders accountable can be as intimidating as it is necessary. Putting yourself in a position where you’ll need to not only revisit but defend the accuracy of your experience takes a lot of courage, and we’re here support you in any way we can. We’ll minimize the amount of practical and emotional work that falls on your shoulders, so you can devote more energy to caring for yourself, knowing that your case is in good hands.

 

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

The Wetherington Law Firm believes in removing the obstacles that stand in the way of justice, which is why we’ve made the consultation process quick and accessible, and why we work exclusively on a contingency basis.

All you need to do is pick up the phone and call or text 404-888-444 and we’ll provide you with a free, no-obligation consultation on your case. You’ll talk directly with one of our qualified attorneys, who will listen to the details of your situation and advise you honestly on your options. If we take your case, that means we’re making a commitment to fight for you for as long as it takes to get you the best settlement possible.

While your case is in progress, you’ll never receive a bill from us or have to worry about racking up too many hours’ worth of fees. Only after we get you your settlement do we request payment, and only as a percentage, regardless of the amount of time we put in along the way. Your finances will never affect the level of service you receive, and if we can’t win for you, you owe us nothing.

 

The Wetherington Law Firm Is Committed to Making the World a Better Place

If you’re looking for more than monetary compensation from an individual, you’ve come to the right firm. We love working with clients who have big ideas about the justice they want to bring to the world. If the sexual battery committed against you was part of a bigger institutional issue, we’ll help you leverage your case to root out deeper problems and push for real change. To learn about how we’ve helped our clients make the world safer and fairer for others, just give us a call and ask!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a victim of sexual battery?

At the Wetherington Law Firm, we understand that holding sexual offenders accountable can be as intimidating as it is necessary. We believe in removing the obstacles that stand in the way of justice, which is why we’ve made the consultation process quick and accessible, and why we work exclusively on a contingency basis.

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