What Does “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” Mean in Pennsylvania Sexual Abuse Cases?

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

When you file such a case against a defendant, you must be able to prove that they are at fault. This is referred to as the burden of proof. In sexual abuse lawsuits, the burden of proof is different between civil and criminal cases.

For civil cases, plaintiffs must only demonstrate that there is, essentially, a greater than 50% chance the defendant liable for the damages being claimed. For an abuser to be convicted of a crime, prosecutors must show that defendants are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Accordingly, jurors cannot convict a defendant based on a mere suspicion of guilt. Rather, it must be proven that there is not a realistic chance that the defendant is innocent.

If you or someone you know was sexually abused in Pennsylvania, get help from our sexual abuse attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin by calling (814) 826-3586.

What Constitutes Proof “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” in Criminal Sexual Abuse Cases in Pennsylvania?

For a defendant to be convicted of sex crimes, it must be proven that they are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is known as the prosecution’s burden of proof. For this burden of proof to be satisfied, a jury must be satisfied to a moral certainty that every element of the crime being alleged has been proven. If there is even a slight but realistic chance that a defendant is innocent, then they cannot be convicted of sexual abuse.

Still, proving a criminal defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt does not require absolute certainty in Pennsylvania. In terms of percentage, establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt can generally be understood to mean proving that there is a 99% or more chance that someone is to blame for a crime. Our lawyers can help victims understand how this burden of proof will be applied to sexual abuse cases.

Do You Need to Prove Guilt Beyond a Reasonable Doubt in in  a Civil Sexual Abuse Case in Pennsylvania?

As opposed to criminal cases that seek to punish abusers, civil sexual abuse cases serve to compensate victims for the physical, emotional, and financial damages they incurred. For you to recover financial compensation from an abuser, you do not need to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, you simply must show that the defendant is at fault under a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. Simply put, plaintiffs in such cases must show that it is more likely than not that defendants are liable for the damages being pursued.

Even if your abuser was not convicted of a crime, you may still be able to recover monetary damages from them for the harm they caused by filing a civil suit with this kind of burden of proof. You can reach out to our experienced sexual abuse lawyers for help building your case against the at-fault party.

Examples of Evidence Used to Satisfy the Burden of Proof in a Civil Sexual Abuse Case in Pennsylvania

There are multiple types of evidence that may be used to satisfy the burden of proof in a civil sexual abuse case. Our sexual abuse attorneys can help gather and preserve the following forms of evidence for you:

Medical Records

Not all sexual abuse victims pursue medical attention for their injuries. For those that do, their medical records may be used to demonstrate the injuries they incurred. Our legal team can help effectively utilize your medical records to prove that an abuser is liable for the harm you suffered.

Still, if you elected not to see a doctor for your sexual abuse injuries, do not feel like you did something wrong. There are understandable reasons for avoiding medical attention after attacks.

Eyewitness Statements

Additionally, eyewitness statements may be used to obtain payment from an abuser through a civil lawsuit. Witnesses can provide both written and oral statements that help prove your case. For example, if someone directly witnessed your abuse, they can help prove the defendant’s is at fault by testifying about what they saw. Further, if you confided in a family member or friend after you were abused, they can help establish damages you endured by speaking about what you shared.

Collecting witness statements to support your civil sexual abuse case can be a traumatic process. Our sexual abuse attorneys can help you reach out to witnesses and ask for their cooperation.

Mental Health Records

Many sexual abuse victims seek comfort by speaking with mental health professionals. In such cases, therapy records can be used to support civil claims against their abusers. However, some plaintiffs may not wish to share these records. If you are uncomfortable presenting evidence from your mental health records, you can consult with our sexual abuse attorneys to determine other ways to satisfy your burden of proof.

Communications Between Victims and Abusers

Finally, our legal team may be able to utilize communications between you and your abuser to prove that they are at fault. After many attacks, survivors are contacted by their abusers via phone calls, emails, texts, and direct messages on social media. These types of communications may help show that abuse occurred and that defendants are to blame. During your free case review, our lawyers can help analyze communications made between you and your abuser.

What Constitutes Sexual Abuse in Pennsylvania?

Sexual abuse refers to situations where people are forced to engage in sexual activities without their consent. Accordingly, there is a wide range of behavior that can constitute sexual abuse. In many cases abusers are enabled by institutions that allow them to perpetrate attacks on unsuspecting victims. For instance, many universities have been held accountable for acts of sexual abuse perpetrated by their employees. If you suspect that you or someone you know has been abused, get in touch with our experienced sexual abuse lawyers for help identifying the proper course of action.

Sexual Abuse Victims in Pennsylvania Can Call Our Law Firm for Support

If you or a loved one suffered sexual abuse, seek guidance from our sexual abuse attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin by dialing (814) 826-3586.


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