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Dallas Sex Assault Lawyer Explains – Consent in Criminal Sexual Assault

Dallas sex crime lawyers Broden and Mickelsen

Dallas Sex Assault Lawyer Explains – Consent in Criminal Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a category of crimes that involves performing sexual activities with another person without their consent. Each state has their own consent laws, with very few variances among them. In recent years, we’ve seen a greater awareness being brought to the topic of consent, in a large part due to media coverage of major sexual assault cases and the #metoo movement. 

With awareness and media coverage also comes a fair share of false information and misinterpretation of information provided. Here is what you need to know about legal consent, and its role in cases of sexual assault in Texas. 

If you’re in a situation where you’re facing charges of sexual assault, it’s important that you reach out to a Dallas Sex Assault Lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case. With the assistance of an experienced criminal attorney, you can work towards building a strategic defense against the charges your facing and take steps to protect your freedom and your future. 

The Role of Consent In Criminal Cases

Consent is the main defining element is cases of sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault. The role of consent in criminal cases of sexual assault is crucial, and it’s also one that can appear somewhat murky on the surface. In recent years, we’ve seen a greater awareness being brought to the subject of consent, and how it is defined from both a legal and cultural standpoint. The issue with consent is that outside of legal definitions, consent often involves assumptions, which sometimes are incorrect. 

Obviously, there are cases when a perpetrator commits sexual assault with malicious intentions to harm and engage another person in sexual activity without their consent. These cases are typically cut and dry. Forced or coerced sexual activity is sexual assault, pure and simple. 

What becomes less clear is the assumed grey area that exists between a definite yes and a definite no. Any person has the right to revoke consent at any point during sexual activity, however, most people don’t come right out and ask for consent every step of the way. It’s often implied based on mutual actions and words. When there is a misunderstanding, misinterpretation, or sheer lack of an ability to read into a partner’s cues, the role of consent in criminal cases becomes more subjective. 

Consent Defined in Cases of Sexual Assault

Because consent is such a central element of any sexual assault case, it’s important to have consent defined, at least on a very basic level. Texas has specific consent laws, which we’ll cover in a moment. However, most people are able to understand the basic tenets of consent without needing to dig deep into legal jargon. 

In the most general terms, consent is defined as a mutual agreement to participate in sexual activity. It’s important to understand that consent cannot be assumed based on current or past actions of either party. This holds true for couples who are in a relationship, including marriage. Even within the confines of marriage, sexual activity without consent is considered rape in all 50 states, with Texas eliminating marital exemptions for rape in 1994. 

Without consent, any sexy activity can be considered sexual assault. This includes non-consensual acts that involve penetration, as well as acts that involve touching someone intimately. If there is any question as to whether consent is given, it’s important to just ask to avoid what could turn into a lengthy and stressful legal situation.  

Texas Consent Laws 

According to Texas consent laws (1), consent is interpreted to mean the positive cooperation of an act pursuant to the exercise of free will. The person must engage freely, and have complete knowledge of the nature of the actions they are engaging in. Consent can be given through words or overt actions indicating freely given agreement to the sexual acts in question. 

In addition to engaging in sexual activity with another person without their consent, Texas also defines situations in which an individual is not viewed as being legally capable of giving consent. This includes anyone under the age of 17, which is the legal age of consent in Texas. Additionally, consent cannot be given or implied by any person who is unconscious or asleep, is under the influence of a mind altering or sedative substance, and any person who is mentally incapable of fully understanding the act in question. 

Seeking the Help of a Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney

Sources 

  1. https://apps.rainn.org/policy/policy-crime-definitions-export.cfm?state=Texas&group=9 
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