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Domestic Violence

Sexual Assault

SEXUAL & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW

Victims who are experiencing domestic violence from their spouse or intimate partner may experience sexual abuse as well as stalking.


Domestic violence victims who have been both physically and sexually abused or stalked are more likely to be killed or seriously injured than victims who only experience physical abuse.


Sexual and domestic violence can happen to all genders, sexual orientations, races, ages, socioeconomic classes.

A person who is disabled, pregnant, or attempting to leave their abuser is at a higher risk of sexual & domestic violence. 


If you cannot afford an attorney, contact an organization that may be able to provide assistance at no cost to those who live in DC.


 

SEXUAL ASSAULT


In D.C., there are four different “degrees” for the crime of sexual assault ( sexual abuse). This is in addition to a misdemeanor charge and separate charges related to sexual abuse and children. D.C. recognizes assault/abuse committed by a family member, guardian, spouse or intimate partner, or person in authority such as a pastor, coach, or teacher.


The D.C. Code defines “sexual act” as: (1) the penetration, however slight, of the anus or vulva of another by a penis, (2) contact between the mouth and the penis, the mouth and the vulva, or the mouth and the anus, or (3) the penetration, however, slight, of the anus or vulva by a hand or finger or by any object, with intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.


“Sexual contact” is defined as the “touching with any clothed or unclothed body part or any object, either directly or indirectly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of another person.” D.C. Criminal Code 22-3001.


Sexual Abuse (D.C. Code §22-3002 et seq.)


First-degree sexual abuse is defined as engaging in or causing another person to engage in or submit to a sexual act in the following manner:

(a) By using force against that other person;

(b) By threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear that any person will be subjected to death, bodily injury, or kidnapping;

(c) After rendering that other person unconscious; or

(d) After administering to that other person by force or threat of force, or without the knowledge or permission of that other person, a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance that substantially impairs the ability of that other person to appraise or control his or her conduct.


Second-degree sexual abuse is defined as engaging in or causing another person to engage in or submit to a sexual act in the following manner:

(a) By threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear (other than by threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear that any person will be subjected to death, bodily injury, or kidnapping); or

(b) Where the person knows or has reason to know that the other person is:

(i) Incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct;

(ii) Incapable of declining participation in that sexual act; or

(iii) Incapable of communicating unwillingness to engage in that sexual act.


Third-degree sexual abuse is defined as engaging in or causing sexual contact with or by another person in the following manner:

(a) By using force against that other person;

(b) By threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear that any person will be subjected to death, bodily injury, or kidnapping;

(c) After rendering that person unconscious; or

(d) After administering to that person by force or threat of force, or without the knowledge or permission of that other person, a drug, intoxicant, or similar substance that substantially impairs the ability of that other person to appraise or control his or her conduct.


Fourth-degree sexual abuse is defined as engaging in or causing sexual contact with or by another person in the following manner:

(a) By threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear (other than by threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear that any person will be subjected to death, bodily injury, or kidnapping); or

(b) Where the person knows or has reason to know that the other person is:

(i) Incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct;

(ii) Incapable of declining participation in that sexual contact; or

(iii) Incapable of communicating unwillingness to engage in that sexual contact.


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DEFENSES TO AN ALLEGATION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT (ABUSE)


Consent (D.C. Code §22-3001)


Consent by the victim is a defense to a prosecution under §§ 22-3002 to 22-3006, prosecuted alone or in conjunction with charges under § 22-3018 or §§ 22-401 and 22-403.


The D.C. Code defines consent as “words or overt actions indicating a freely given agreement to the sexual act or contact in question. Lack of verbal or physical resistance or submission by the victim, resulting from the use of force, threats, or coercion by the defendant shall not constitute consent.”


Consent must be voluntarily given and cannot be implied when a person is unable to give consent or does not explicitly verbalize consent. A person who is incapacitated due to the consumption of drugs or alcohol cannot give consent.


Typically abusers will claim that the victim consented to the sexual activity. In addition to the abuse itself, a victim having to defend themself from this claim causes even more pain, anger, and humiliation. 


If you believe you have been the victim of an assault 

contact The Lacroix Law Firm.




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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE​


Domestic violence is a very serious crime that negatively impacts the lives of individual victims, families, friends, and communities each day.


Domestic Violence (D.C. Code §16-1031)


Domestic Violence is an intrafamily offense that results in physical injury, including physical pain or illness or that caused or was intended to cause reasonable fear of imminent serious physical injury or death.


Dating Violence

Dating Violence is an offense against an intimate partner (romantic, dating, or sexual relationship) that results in physical injury, including physical pain or illness or that caused or was intended to cause reasonable fear of imminent serious physical injury or death.


Stalking (D.C. Code §22-3133)

Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific individual:

With the intent to cause that individual to:

(a) Fear for his or her safety or the safety of another person;

(b) Feel seriously alarmed, disturbed, or frightened; or

(c) Suffer emotional distress;


That the person knows would cause that individual reasonably to:

(a) Fear for his or her safety or the safety of another person;

(b) Feel seriously alarmed, disturbed, or frightened; or

(c) Suffer emotional distress; or


That the person should have known would cause a reasonable person in the individual’s circumstances to:

(a) Fear for his or her safety or the safety of another person;

(b) Feel seriously alarmed, disturbed, or frightened; or

(c) Suffer emotional distress.

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Filing A Civil Lawsuit After A Domestic Violence


Most physical acts of domestic or intra-family violence result not only in criminal charges but also civil liability for the perpetrator. This means that if you're a victim of domestic violence, it's possible to sue your abuser in civil court for your injuries under tort law.


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Filing an Order of Protection After Domestic Violence


Any victim can petition a judge to grant a Civil Protection Order (CPO) against their abuser in DC Superior Court’s Domestic Violence Court. 


However, despite the common belief, it is not guaranteed that a judge will agree that a CPO should be granted against your abuser. Although you may file for a CPO yourself with the court, if your abuser hires a skilled lawyer, your request could be denied.


In Washington, D.C., domestic violence is divided into three categories: intimate partner violence or intrafamily violence which are explained in detail above. You can also request a CPO as part of your civil claim against a sexual abuser or as part of your separation or divorce process in Family Court.


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