Friday, July 31, 2009

Filing Civil vs. Criminal Rape Charges

Interesting piece at "Yes Means Yes" re: why a rape victim may actually prefer filing civil charges in place of criminal rape charges:

1) Different remedies are available in a civil case that cannot get in a criminal case. E.g., as a condition of settlement in a civil case, a victim can ask that the defendant go through mental health counseling, have to give a donation to a rape crisis center, agree not to stay in a hotel without a chaperone, etc. I’m not suggesting the victim in this case wants any of this, but rather that there is lots of room in a civil case to structure a resolution that feels relevant and promotes the victim’s healing. In contrast, at the end of the day, in a criminal case it is the state/the government against the defendant, and the victim is the state’s witness.

2) In a civil case, the victim can address more than just the perpetrator’s behavior. In a civil case, the victim can seek to hold certain third party defendants – e.g., her employer – liable for discriminatory behavior based on the employer’s failure/refusal to believe that she was raped.

3) Depending on the time of crime to be charged, the victim may be able to resolve civil case more speedily than criminal case. This issue is especially important for lower income victims (who, as we know, perpetrators often prey on because they are likely to be more vulnerable in various regards).

More at: Yes Means Yes

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