You may require the expertise of a sexual abuse lawyer or sexual harassment lawyer to seek compensation for sex crimes. In Jackson County, Missouri, it’s important to understand the legal difference between sexual harassment, abuse, and assault so that you can understand which category your case falls under.

What Is the Legal Difference Between Sexual Harassment and Abuse?

In Missouri, the main difference between harassment and abuse is whether physical contact has been made with the victim. For example, sexual harassment could be the verbal or written degradation of an individual, but sexual abuse often involves non-consensual touching. While lack of consent is still the baseline qualifier, the amount of physical contact (and the anatomy involved) defines the legal difference between harassment and abuse.

Sexual Harassment in Jackson County, Missouri

There are three main categories of behavior that qualify as sexual harassment: sexual coercion, unwanted attention, and gender harassment. Sexual coercion is also known as quid pro quo, meaning that conditions of employment or livelihood are contingent on sexual favors from the victim. You will likely require the help of a sexual harassment lawyer to seek justice, particularly if refusing sexual favors cost you employment.

Another form of sexual harassment is unwanted attention, which is the most common behavior in this category. Unwanted attention can include verbal or physical attention, such as unwanted kissing or hugging from a harasser. Finally, gender harassment often includes degrading images, comments, and written harassment about the victim based on their gender.

When Sexual Abuse Becomes Sexual Assault

In Missouri, there is a fine line between sexual assault and sexual abuse. While Missouri law prohibits all forms of non-consensual sex, sexual offenses for sexual abuse are sometimes more difficult to define. In general, the difference between abuse and assault is the anatomy that is involved. As a rule, unwanted touching of the breasts or other intimate parts of the body is considered abuse, while any penetration or intercourse is considered sexual assault.

Children and Sexual Abuse and Assault Laws

Minors who are involved in sexual abuse and sexual assault cases in Missouri have several protections. Even if a minor, such as a 17-year-old, consents to a sexual act, the sexual act is still considered illegal. This is because Missouri considers children unable to truly consent to sexual conduct and sexual acts.

When Might You Need a Sexual Harassment Lawyer?

You may file a grievance or lawsuit for sexual harassment regardless of where you experience harassment. However, it’s very common to hire a sexual harassment lawyer when you experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. The frequency of sexual harassment in the workplace makes this offense one of the most commonly cited among workers.

You will likely need a sexual harassment lawyer to protect your employment while you are seeking compensation or justice for sexual harassment in the workplace. A lawyer can protect you from retaliation and can also ensure that you receive compensation for pain, suffering, and psychological distress.

How Can a Sexual Abuse Lawyer Help You?

If you have been sexually abused or sexually assaulted, you may want to consider hiring a sexual abuse lawyer to help you with your case, particularly if you plan to file a civil or criminal lawsuit. A sexual abuse lawyer understands the process of sexual abuse cases, including collecting evidence with rape kits and other strategies.

Filing a Civil Lawsuit

A civil lawsuit for sexual abuse occurs when the victim requests compensation from their abuser, which can include economic and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Civil cases for sexual abuse often overlap with sexual harassment lawsuits in the workplace under federal law, which will require additional complaints to be filed with the appropriate bodies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Filing a Criminal Lawsuit

A criminal lawsuit for sexual abuse or assault in Missouri is filed by the state on behalf of the victim. Criminal charges against the defendant will only occur when the victim contacts law enforcement to report sexual abuse or sexual assault. When this happens, law enforcement will investigate the claims and a state prosecutor will be appointed to file charges against the assailant.

In these cases, defendants who are found guilty of criminal sexual conduct will receive jail time and will be placed on the sex offender registration list. Cases that can qualify for a criminal lawsuit for sexual assault or sexual abuse can include rape, statutory rape, and repeated sexual abuse, such as from an individual who is in a place of power over the victim (like a coach or boss).

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Sex Crimes in Missouri?

Although Missouri has harsh laws for sexual abuse, harassment, and assault, the state also has several statutes of limitations that must be observed. The statute of limitations will ensure victims can seek justice up to a certain point in time.

Civil Statutes of Limitations

In sexual abuse cases, victims of childhood sexual abuse may have up to three years from the time of the abuse discovery or 10 years from the victim’s 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. In sexual abuse cases that involve adults, the statute of limitations can range from two years from the assault and battery, or up to five years from the event to file for personal injury compensation.

Criminal Statutes of Limitations

The criminal statutes of limitations for sexual assault and sexual abuse are a bit more generous. For example, rape has no statute of limitations in Missouri. For sexual assault involving a minor, including rape and attempted rape, there’s also no statute of limitations. Other criminal offenses involving a minor will have a statute of limitations of 30 years after the victim’s 18th birthday.

What Happens If You Miss the Statute of Limitations?

If you miss the statute of limitations for your sexual harassment, abuse, or assault case, you will not be able to seek compensation or justice. That’s why it’s important to contact a sexual abuse lawyer in Jackson County, Missouri as soon as possible so that you will not miss the deadlines and will be able to file paperwork to start your civil lawsuit.

Additionally, it’s important for law enforcement to be able to investigate your case quickly, as this will preserve any DNA evidence that may be relevant to your case so that this evidence can be used in a criminal lawsuit. Without DNA evidence, it’s often very difficult to prove certain criminal sexual assault and abuse claims. Victims should always contact law enforcement to start the investigative process.

What If You Suspect Abuse?

If you suspect the sexual abuse of children, disabled people, or elderly people, you are legally obligated to report your suspicions to law enforcement. Adult victims who are not considered vulnerable because of age or disability have the choice to report sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. When you file a report, law enforcement will begin investigating the claim to protect these vulnerable populations.

In Jackson County, Missouri, the legal difference between sexual harassment and abuse is whether the sexual offense was verbal, written, or physical. Furthermore, there is a fine line between abuse and assault in Missouri. You will need to discuss your case with a lawyer and contact law enforcement as soon as possible so that you can seek justice. Please contact Holman Schiavone, LLC to learn more about your legal options today.