Sexual Violence Legal Assistance Project | 717-901-6784
PCAR’s Sexual Violence Legal Assistance Project provides free holistic legal advice and counsel, and short-term representation to victims of rape and sexual assault. The project is designed to fill existing gaps where local community legal services are unavailable, and gives priority to victims of non-intimate partner sexual assault.
If you need legal assistance, you may call 717-901-6784, Monday – Friday from 9:30am – 4:00pm to speak with a legal provider.
The legal system can be frightening, frustrating, and confusing. You may feel anxious when dealing with police officers and lawyers, and nervous about going to court. In addition, the court process can take a long time. You might have a lot of questions or feel hesitant to move forward. Your local rape crisis center can provide a legal advocate to help you through the legal process.
A legal advocate can help you by answering your questions and offering support by:
- Serving as a link between you and the legal system
- Providing you with information to help you make decisions
- Telling you about your rights
- Preparing you for the legal experience
- Referring you to helpful community resources
Statutes of limitations are the time limits that a victim of sexual assault has to file a legal claim.
Criminal cases are filed by the state and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Convicted offenders may face incarceration, fines or both.
Civil cases are filed by individuals and must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely to have occurred than not. Civil law is designed to make the victim “whole,” usually in the form of monetary damages. Currently, victims who were over the age of 18 at the time of the abuse have two years to file civil cases. Victims who were under the age of 18 when the abuse occurred have 12 years after their 18th birthday to file civil charges.
To learn more about the statutes of limitations, contact your local district attorney.
If you decide to file a police report:
After you make a police report, the county prosecutor or district attorney’s office will decide if criminal charges should be filed against the offender. If charges are filed, the case will begin to move through the legal process.
In order to make this decision, the prosecutor or district attorney must consider a few things:
- Is there is enough evidence to prove that a crime happened?
- Which charges, if any, can be filed?
- Can guilt be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” in court?