If you are the victim of an assault, you should not be alone. Filing a complaint and contacting a lawyer quickly are the first things you should do. To avoid facing this destabilizing situation alone, discover our advice on which lawyer to choose for an assault.
Typology of the most common assaults
Many assaults are listed in the penal code. Consulting a lawyer for an assault is important because it will help you put into words what you have experienced. Here are some of the most common assaults.
Violence and threats
Violence is characterized by any act that affects the physical or psychological integrity of a specific person. This is an intentionally broad definition. In addition to physical violence (beatings, stabbings, etc.), it also includes psychological violence, such as an emotional shock, as well as all forms of domestic violence.
It should also be noted that these are sentences that can be increased depending on the number of aggravating circumstances. Among the aggravating circumstances are: violence committed on a vulnerable person (pregnant woman, etc.) or a minor, with a weapon, etc.
Threats to a specific person are also considered an assault. They are of different types:
- Verbal and repeated threats: death threats, etc.,
- Threat materialized by a writing, a picture or other: the voodoo doll, etc.,
- Threat with an order to fulfill a condition: to pay a sum of money, etc.
Depending on the seriousness of the threat, the penal sanction varies. For example in case of a death threat, the aggressor faces 3 years imprisonment and 45,000 € fine.
Sexual assaults require physical contact between the aggressor and the victim.
The aggressor uses violence, coercion, surprise (breaking into the victim’s home at night, etc.) or threats (to broadcast a video of their lovemaking…).
The perpetrator is fully aware that he or she is committing a wrongful act without the victim’s constant consent. Sexual assaults are punishable by 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of 75 000 €.
Beware, they are a separate offence from rape.
Indeed, rape is characterized by penetration.
It is also an act committed using violence, coercion, threat or surprise without the consent of the victim. It is punishable by 15 years in prison.
Harassment: moral and sexual harassment
Moral harassment consists of repeated acts leading to a deterioration of working conditions and having harmful consequences for the victim.
Sexual harassment covers two cases:
Repeated acts in the form of comments or behavior with sexual connotations that undermine the victim’s dignity or create an intimidating situation for him/her
OR acts, even if not repeated, aimed at obtaining a sexual favor.
In both cases, harassment is punishable by 2 years of imprisonment and a fine of 30 000 €.
How to react after an aggression ?
After an assault, you should always file a complaint. 2 specific hypotheses to be distinguished.
Filing a complaint: the “simple” complaint
Whatever the nature of the aggression you have suffered, it is important to file a complaint at the nearest police station or gendarmerie. Even if it is sometimes difficult, filing a complaint remains necessary so that you can both recognize yourself as a victim and assert your rights.
In principle, you must come in person to file a complaint. You will be asked to detail all the facts precisely. The police officer will take your statement and forward it to the Public Prosecutor (Ministère Public). The latter will then decide whether or not to prosecute the aggressor.
No prosecution: the Public Prosecutor will not pursue your case
The Prosecutor decides to prosecute the aggressor. He can order:
- Alternative measures to prosecution (penal mediation, penal composition, etc.)
– A penal sanction before the correctional court or the police court (appearance on prior recognition of guilt, immediate appearance, direct summons, etc.)
– The opening of an investigation in the presence of a crime or misdemeanor only: it is the Prosecutor who refers the case to the investigating judge
The complaint with civil party status
The complaint with civil party status aims to bring a case before the courts to obtain compensation.
Attention, it is necessary to differentiate the public action, implemented by the Public Ministry only, which aims at sanctioning the author of the facts. And, the civil action which belongs to the victim and aims at the compensation of the damage.
There are 2 ways to file a civil action:
– Directly to the investigating judge or by summoning the perpetrator to appear before the court of judgment. This is possible even if the public prosecutor has decided not to prosecute the aggressor.
– By joining the prosecutor ‘s case. This option is only available if the Public Prosecutor decides to prosecute the aggressor.
The civil action can be filed at any time during the proceedings until the trial. It is not subject to any particular formalism. The letter must simply be dated and signed and include a summary of the facts as precise as possible.
Focus on the deadlines to file a complaint :
– 1 year for minor offences
– 6 years for misdemeanors
– 10 years for crimes
After these deadlines, you can no longer file a complaint because your action is statute-barred. The aggressor cannot then be prosecuted.
Why consult a lawyer for an assault ?
Consulting a lawyer to help you is crucial. What can he or she do for you?
Support youthroughout the process
Consulting an assault attorney is a necessary step.
First, after the assault you will need to be heard and considered in your capacity as a victim with all the necessary support. When you meet with your lawyer, he or she will listen carefully to your story and will be able to put legal terms on what you have suffered. He will support you in your right to have the aggressor convicted and to receive compensation for the harm suffered.
It is then thanks to him that you will be able to better understand the consequences of your complaint. In particular, he will be able to explain to you the sanction decided by the magistrate against your aggressor and what you can expect from now on.
Moreover, if you have filed a civil suit, the lawyer is a great support because he can have access to the file. He will be able to defend you better because he can consult all the relevant elements of the file and thus establish a solid line of defense.
As a civil party assisted by a lawyer, you can
– Formulate requests and ask for all the acts necessary to establish the truth (investigative measures such as an expertise, etc.),
– Raise nullities,
– Be informed of the progress of the case.
If there is a trial, he will accompany you. And of course, he will plead in your favor and against your aggressor.
Obtaining compensation from the CIVI
At the same time, the lawyer can also help you build a case to be compensated by a CIVI(Commission d’Indemnisation des Victimes d’Infractions).
There is one within the jurisdiction of each court of first instance. The CIVI intervenes in particular when the aggressor is dead, unknown or not solvent. You will then be compensated by a guarantee fund.
You have 3 years to file a claim from the date of the crime. Before the CIVI, a lawyer is not mandatory but is strongly recommended, especially during the expertise.
Which lawyer should you choose to defend yourself after an assault ?
The lawyer for an assault who will defend you may be a criminal lawyer or a personal injury lawyer.
Thecriminal lawyer will be able to defend you before the competent criminal courts depending on the seriousness of the offence:
– Police court for minor offenses,
– Correctional court for misdemeanors,
– Assize Court for crimes.
The criminal lawyer will accompany you throughout the procedure and will allow you to fully understand its progress.
You can also opt for a lawyer in personal injury law. The latter will allow you to clarify more particularly the compensation part of your personal injury. You are indeed entitled to compensation for all the physical or psychological expectations resulting directly from the aggression. A medical expertise will be carried out to clearly establish all the damages you have suffered. The lawyer will accompany you. He will take care of the matter so that you get a fair compensation.
The cost of a lawyer for an assault
The cost of a lawyer in case of assault is usually around 200 € per hour. Be careful, watch your insurance contract because you may be covered by it. The insurance may indeed cover all or part of the legal costs, including the lawyer’s fees.