For those concerned with facing accusations of sexual assault, getting consent is a critical first step in any encounter. People are often told that they need to ensure that they have consent from their partner before proceeding. This is even true in relationships where people are dating or together long-term and clearly applies to short-term relationships or hookups.
That being said, it’s very important to know that someone cannot always give consent and that consent that is provided will not always qualify if a legal case does arise. When seeking consent, it must be done in the proper way. Let’s look at some examples of when consent cannot be given.
The person is impaired
First of all, if the person is impaired by drugs or intoxicated after drinking alcohol, they cannot give consent. This is also true if they are asleep or if they’ve passed out and they are now unconscious. A highly-intoxicated individual who technically does give their consent may never remember it and may not even know what they are doing at the time, so it may not qualify as actual consent.
The power dynamics are unequal
Another thing to consider is that someone has to give consent of their free will. Power dynamics can play into this. For example, if a college professor and a student have a sexual relationship, it could be said that the student had no real ability to decide if they were giving their consent or not. This is also true in situations where people are threatened or pressured. Finally, those who are underage cannot give consent, as they could be manipulated or pressured by older partners.
Those who have been accused of criminal sexual acts need to be well aware of their legal defense options to protect their future.