Was It a Sex Crime or Was It Consensual?

- Lotze Mosley

Often, in cases involving sex crimes, the question of consent arises. In particular, when there is overwhelming evidence that a sexual act occurred between two people, the focus of a case tends to move away from the act and to the reasons for the act.

In Washington DC, there are some rules regarding the ability of a person to give consent. One of the most common places where consent is challenged involves the use of alcohol or drugs.

Intoxication Is a Factor in Determining Whether Someone Can Consent to a Sexual Act

According to the D.C. Criminal Code, if a person’s ability to control his or her conduct is substantially impaired by alcohol, then the person cannot legally consent. Additionally, a person who is incapable of expressing his or her unwillingness to engage in sexual conduct is considered to be unable to lawfully give consent. As a result, cases involving alcohol require the facts of the case to be carefully analyzed to determine whether the person was substantially impaired by alcohol. If it can be shown that the person was not “substantially” impaired, then consent would be a valid defense to the charge.

It is important to note that the District of Columbia will only consider consent invalid if the person is substantially impaired by alcohol. This is significantly different than other States where a single drop of alcohol may render a person incapable of consenting to sexual acts.

The issue of alcohol and consent has come to the forefront of a debate regarding sexual assault and sex crimes in general in recent cases involving college students from various Universities across America. The debate over the last few years has focused on college parties, sexual activity, and drinking. In particular, there was an athlete at the University of Virginia, who was accused of attending a party then sleeping with a woman who was intoxicated at the party.

One of the central problems with these types of sexual encounters is that the analysis of whether a person was too intoxicated to consent happens after the fact. Even when a person has said that he or she wants to have sex, they can later revisit the encounter if they have regrets. In other words, some people may try to take their consent back when they later regret the activity even if it is months or years after the fact.

Experienced Sex Crime Defense Attorney

Because of the perils that a defendant faces when accused of a sex crime, it is essential that he or she talk to an experienced sex crimes defense attorney. Though a defendant may think he is safe by saying he had consent, he should never embark upon this path without the guidance of an attorney who knows how to present a defense around consent. If you are facing a sexual crime, you should contact Lotze Mosley for a free consultation about your case at (202) 393-0535.