The attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at Galluzzo & Arnone have defended countless individuals arrested and accused of sexual assault crimes, from Class B felonies like Rape in the First Degree to Class B misdemeanors like Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree. Of course, our primary concern has always been to exonerate our clients or negotiate the best outcome under the circumstances. However, we are also careful to counsel our clients on the fact that, just because a criminal case has been resolved favorably, the battle may still not be over. Civil lawsuits for sexual assault and rape can arise and pose significant problems for those arrested for assault even after the criminal case has been put to rest. This is especially true where the accused are wealthy and/or famous, as the complaining witnesses (or “victims”) often see an opportunity for a payday. Indeed, many of the people who are sued for rape and sexual assault in New York are high net worth individuals (very successful professionals and investors) or celebrities (such as athletes or entertainers).
In New York civil law, rape, sexual assault and battery are intentional torts (or cause of action) which have one-year statute of limitations, meaning that any such lawsuits must be brought within one year from the date of the alleged violent act. (Note that there is no such thing as battery in New York criminal law – that word has only meaning in the New York civil law context). It should be noted that this statutory period is extended to 5 years, or one year from the termination of the criminal action, in civil cases arising out of various sexual criminal acts.
A guilty plea to a sexual assault case in criminal court can make it especially easy for a victim to pursue a lawsuit against the defendant. After all, a guilty plea is an admission under oath that the assault occurred which can be used against that criminal defendant in a civil lawsuit. After a guilty plea, it is effectively impossible for a criminal defendant to deny that he is liable for a sexual assault against the victim in a civil lawsuit without committing the crime of perjury. In these situations, the only issue to be determined in a civil lawsuit is the amount of money due to the victim, since liability is effectively admitted to.