Victims of sexual assault in Texas can pursue some measure of justice through both the criminal and civil court systems. For many survivors, the thought of testifying against their perpetrator is their biggest source of anxiety. While a first-hand account of the trauma endured can prove invaluable, survivors of sexual assault are not legally required to testify in a civil court proceeding.
However, this is not always the case in criminal proceedings, where a survivor’s testimony is one of the most crucial pieces of evidence, and required by the defense. The standards of evidence are lower in civil cases, but it is still the victim’s prerogative whether they want to testify against their attacker in court.
If you’re pursuing a civil sexual assault lawsuit for damages, your sexual abuse lawyer will explain the process and potential advantages and drawbacks of personal testimony. Victims of sexual abuse and assault may choose to participate very little in litigation proceedings, and are protected by survivor’s rights under Texas law.
A sexual assault survivor’s rights
In Texas, a survivor of sexual assault has the legal right to the following provisions – many of which are particularly applicable in criminal, rather than civil, proceedings.
- Decide whether to report the assault to the police report
- Sensitive medical treatment in the emergency room
- Have an advocate or representative present during the medical examination
- Have their attacker tested for HIV and receive notice of the results following indictment
- Use of a pseudonym and have their identifying information kept out of court files
- Have written notice of crime victims’ rights and referrals for a sexual assault program
- The ability to refuse a lie detector test
- Reimbursement, through the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, for financial losses resulting from the assault such as medical expenses, lost wages, and relocation costs
- To be notified of all legal matters, including parole proceedings
- Have her or his safety considered when bail is set
- Have a private waiting area before testifying in court
- Write a victim impact statement that is considered during punishment and parole proceedings
- If qualifying, maintain a private address through the Texas Address Confidentiality Program
Survivors of sexual assault who have been threatened with further harm by their attacker can request a protective order. A protective order is issued from a civil court and designed to prevent continuing acts of violence. If the order is violated, there can be both criminal and civil consequences.
Keep in mind that sexual assault victims do not have to press criminal charges against the offender in order to seek a protective order. Protective orders can be issued regardless of the relationship between the victim and their assailant. In cases involving child sexual abuse, a parent or guardian of the survivor may apply for a protective order with the help of a personal injury lawyer. Sexual assault protective orders in Texas are generally valid for two years, but extensions are made in certain circumstances.
Dallas sexual assault victim lawyers
Victim testimony is not required in civil lawsuits for sexual assault but can prove helpful in advancing claims under certain circumstances. To learn more about your legal remedies after a sexual assault, speak to a Dallas personal injury attorney at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation. All communication remains confidential under attorney-client privilege, and there is no obligation to retain our services.