Date Rape: Alcohol and the Ability to Consent

Connecticut date rape charges, Hartford criminal defense lawyerMost people are familiar with the concept of date rape or acquaintance rape. This is a rape that usually occurs between dating couples. The relationship does not have to be long-term for the term to apply. There is often little confusion when a person initiating sexual contact hears a “no” from the other person to whom the contact is directed. When alcohol is involved, however, and both parties are drunk, consent may be more difficult to decipher; this is why a rape that occurs under these circumstances is sometimes known as “grey rape.” What happens when only one person is drunk, though, and this person later reports a rape against a date who was sober or less intoxicated?

Sexual Contact When Intoxicated

If a person is drunk to the point of unconsciousness or to the point where he or she cannot physically or verbally refuse sexual contact, then anyone initiating sexual contact with this person may be prosecuted for sexual assault. The only question remains asks whether or not the alleged victim of the sexual assault was given alcohol without his or her consent, or if he or she consumed it willingly. Depending on the answer to this question, the accused can face either first or second degree sexual assault charges.

The Connecticut law on rape, or sexual assault as it is referred to under the law, defines sexual assault in several ways. One aspect of  Sexual assault in the first degree occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse with another person and the other person is mentally incapacitated to the extent that he or she is unable to consent to such sexual intercourse. Mental incapacitation under this law means that the alleged victim, due to the influence of alcohol or drugs, is rendered temporarily incapable of judging or controlling his or her conduct. The drugs or alcohol have to have been given to the alleged victim without his or her consent.

Sexual assault in the second degree, which is a less serious crime than sexual assault in the first degree, is defined, in part, as when a person engages in sexual intercourse with another person who is physically helpless at the time. In this instance, physical helplessness is when a person is unconscious, or for any other reason physically or verbally unable to resist an act of sexual intercourse or sexual contact.

Note that oral sex, and even slight penetration by either a sexual organ, other bodily parts (including a finger) or an object, is considered sexual intercourse for the purpose of Connecticut sexual assault laws.

The most common defense to a sexual assault charge is “consent.” (An individual under the age of sixteen cannot legally “consent”). Generally, it is up to the prosecution to prove that there was no consent to the sexual relations involved in a sexual assault case. After the prosecution introduces evidence of lack of consent, the defense can show consent as a defense. In a case involving alcohol and claims that the victim was too drunk, the strategy for a defense changes depending on which charge of sexual assault the accused is facing.

Contact a Hartford Criminal Defense Attorney

The accusation of rape can sometimes be just as bad as a conviction. If you or someone you know has been accused of rape or sexual assault, you need a Connecticut criminal defense lawyer with experience in sexual assault cases. Contact an attorney from the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, for a free consultation today.

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