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Sexual consent and its use as a defense

On Behalf of | May 17, 2022 | Sex Crimes |

The sexual consent rules mean that partners must consent to sexual activity in all its forms, including touching. No consent before engaging in sexual activity could mean rape or sexual assault. The partners must freely consent each time, respect personal boundaries, understand that their partner may change their mind, and be specific about what is okay and what is not okay.

The above standards provide a general foundation of safe and respectful sexual behavior. Even so, someone may find themselves facing accusations or charges of sexual assault. Despite biases against the accused, some basic legal defenses protect the rights and reputation of those facing charges.

Establishing consent

Consent comes in different forms. These include:

  • Express: The person says they want to perform sexual relations.
  • Implied: The person uses their actions to say they want to engage in sexual relations. It can get more complicated because there are multiple signs and meanings, and the partners may misread them or remember the implied signs differently.

Demonstrating consent

A more complicated situation arises when the issue revolves around the consent between the partners. The defendant can demonstrate that the alleged victim consented to sexual contact. Often it is difficult to provide direct evidence of consent without testifying and subjecting themself to cross-examination, but this approach has fallen out of favor because it can unfairly cast the defendant in a negative light. Instead, the defendant can provide credible information without inconsistencies. Support for their information can come from text or voice messages.

Circumstances can make consent invalid

Sometimes implied or verbal consent is not enough. The alleged victim cannot be under the age of consent (17 years). The consent is also not legitimate if the alleged victim felt coerced or threatened. It may be a situation where the partner did not understand the proposed act to which they consented. Other circumstances that disqualify consent include intoxication or mental disability.

An experienced defense is crucial

The circumstances outlined above provide a general context regarding sexual consent. It can quickly get much more confusing and complicated as the authorities and courts examine the situation. So, it is often essential for defendants to work with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with experience handling cases hinging on establishing consent. This can be the difference between criminal charges with lasting implications and the ability to move on with one’s life knowing they were innocent in their thoughts and actions.