Sexual assaulted victim being terrified.

Rape and sexual assault are inexcusable crimes that drastically alter the lives of survivors and their loved ones. Unfortunately, these offenses are not uncommon. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), one out of every six women and one out of every 33 men in America have been the victim of a completed or attempted rape in their lifetimes.

At Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, our compassionate legal team is committed to protecting the rights of those who have suffered and survived the trauma of sexual abuse. If you are a survivor, call or contact a Norcross sexual assault or rape lawyer at our firm for a private, confidential case review. The first consultation is free.

What Do GA Laws Say About Rape and Sexual Assault?

Although it’s common to use the terms “rape” and “sexual assault” interchangeably, each term has a distinct meaning under Georgia law.

The Georgia legal code has a narrow definition of rape that does not apply to all instances of sexual assault. In Georgia, rape is defined as:

  • Carnal knowledge of a female person that is both forcible and against her will.
  • Carnal knowledge of any female person who is less than 10 years of age.

The law specifies that “carnal knowledge” occurs only when there is “penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.” It’s also important to note that forcible carnal knowledge between married persons is included as rape under Georgia law.

If any person engages in sexual intercourse with any other person “under the age of 16 years and not his or her spouse,” they are committing a separate offense known as statutory rape. Charges of statutory rape in Georgia are not limited by gender.

Georgia law defines several other types of sexual assault that can occur between people of any gender, including:

  • Sexual assault by persons with supervisory or disciplinary authority – If a person has sexual contact with another individual over whom they hold supervisory or disciplinary authority, it is defined as sexual assault by law. Exceptions do apply to married couples, but the law specifies that consent is not a defense when this type of sexual contact occurs between unmarried people.
  • Sexual battery – Any intentional physical contact with the “intimate parts” of another person without their consent.
  • Aggravated sexual battery – Intentional penetration of a person’s sexual organ or anus with a foreign object without that person’s consent.
  • Sodomy – The performance of or submission to any sexual act that involves the “sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another.” It’s worth noting that this section of the Georgia code has been held unconstitutional in previous court decisions.
  • Aggravated sodomy – Any act of sodomy by force and against another person’s will or any act of sodomy with another person who is less than 10 years of age. The fact that two people are married is not a valid defense against charges of aggravated sodomy.

A conviction on any of these charges is typically punishable by a minimum prison sentence of one or several years. Convictions of aggravated sexual assault or rape can result in mandatory minimum 25-year prison sentences, life in prison, or capital punishment.

Important Things for Survivors and Their Families to Know

Survivors of rape and sexual assault endure overwhelming physical and emotional distress. Family members of survivors often feel shattered and devastated. In light of this kind of disturbing trauma, it’s vital to know:

  • Survivors are not to blame. Rape and sexual assault are crimes, and the only person at fault for such a heinous crime is a criminal. No one is ever guilty of being raped, and you are not responsible for your attacker’s actions based on the way you look, behave, or dress.
  • You can heal in your own time. You have been through a harrowing ordeal, and it’s important to focus on what’s best for you as you begin the healing process. Every survivor responds differently, so take the time you need to process your trauma on your own schedule.
  • You have the right to take legal action. You can discuss your ordeal with law enforcement to ensure they pursue criminal charges, and you can also file a civil lawsuit against your attacker. It’s even possible to keep your identity private in doing so. If you decide to make a civil claim (sue), it’s important to contact a sexual assault victim lawyer as soon as possible before the relevant statute of limitations expires for your case.
  • You are not alone. Many rape and sexual assault survivors feel isolated and understandably reluctant to speak about what happened to them. Know that you are not alone. There are several resources available to survivors and their families, including a state network of rape crisis centers, a confidential National Sexual Assault Hotline, and information from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The attorneys at Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, also stand as allies who believe survivors and aggressively pursue justice on their behalf.

How We Advocate for Victims

The attorneys at Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, handle cases involving rape and sexual assault in Norcross and the surrounding Georgia regions with utmost care and sensitivity. We advocate for victims by:

  • Holding attackers responsible by working with police officers, physicians, therapists, and investigators to establish strong cases.
  • Holding employers responsible, if rape or sexual assault occurs in the workplace or employers fail to properly conduct a background check of the alleged attacker’s criminal history during the hiring process.
  • Holding negligent property owners accountable, if their failure to provide proper security contributes to criminal sexual conduct on their premises.

What Happens When You Pursue Charges?

After you make an initial report to law enforcement, you can decide whether or not you would like to pursue charges. To pursue charges means to work with prosecutors and move forward with an investigation into the rape or sexual assault incident.

According to RAINN, only 13 out of every 1,000 instances of rape are referred to prosecutors, and less than one percent of cases result in felony convictions.

The decision to press charges is ultimately up to state prosecutors, but few prosecutors pursue criminal charges with only the available evidence. You are not required to participate if prosecutors choose to move forward without your involvement.

Many cases of sexual assault end with perpetrators accepting plea bargains for reduced penalties, which do not require the involvement or testimony of survivors. However, if a sexual assault or rape case goes to trial, survivors may be asked to testify in criminal court. Survivors also have the option to file civil lawsuits for monetary compensation, whether or not criminal charges are filed.

At Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, our sexual assault and rape victim lawyers can help you demand compensation for your injuries and losses.

How to Choose an Attorney

If you decide to take legal action, you will need an experienced and empathetic lawyer to represent your interests. When you choose an attorney, pay attention to their familiarity with local laws, their case results and client reviews, and their commitment to effective communication.

No matter what happened to you, you have rights, and you should not have to suffer alone. The caring team at Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, is here to listen to your story, explain your legal options, and help you move forward. Call or contact us today for a free consultation to learn more.