hartford defense lawyerThe first few months of the school year are sometimes referred to as the “red zone” for sexual assaults on college campuses. More than 50 percent of campus sexual assaults occur during this time. There are a variety of reasons why more assaults may occur at the beginning of the school year, including the common use of alcohol by students as they enjoy living away from their parents’ homes. In 2021, this is an issue that may not only affect first-year students but also others who were unable to attend college in person over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why Students May Commit Sexual Assault Without Realizing it

Attitudes about consent have changed in recent years. In the past, sexual assault prevention efforts were often focused on what victims could do to prevent being assaulted, such as being aware of their alcohol use, avoiding provocative outfits, or ensuring that a friend is close by. However, advocates have begun to focus on preventing assaults by ensuring that people obtain consent before engaging in sexual conduct. 

However, even with these changing attitudes, some students may engage in behavior that may be considered assault without realizing it. In many cases, this is due to a culture that treats sex as something that is too embarrassing to discuss while presuming that men are meant to be sexually aggressive and that women have the responsibility to decide whether to engage in sexual activity. Without the proper education regarding appropriate behavior and attitudes toward sex, students may follow their instincts or bow to peer pressure, leading to situations where one person may pressure another into sex, commit unwanted touching or groping, or engage in sexual conduct with a person who is unable to provide consent.

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Hartford sex crime defense attorney

In the wake of the viral “Me Too” movement that swept across social media in recent years, many state and local jurisdictions have taken a second look at their current sexual assault laws to determine whether changes should be made. Connecticut is the latest state to pass legislation concerning sexual misconduct laws. The Connecticut legislature recently voted to pass a bill that would make a number of changes to state law, including extending the statute of limitations for prosecuting sexual assault charges.

Disagreement Among House Members

Though the bill passed unanimously in the Senate, the vote in the House was not as one-sided. The bill passed by a vote of 121-23, with those 23 naysayers expressing worries about the changes to the law. One member suggested that a person’s memories are not always accurate as time goes on, and a longer statute of limitations could mean that a person may be accused of sex crimes based on untrustworthy testimony. Another member was concerned with the bill’s possible interference with the constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial. Proponents of the bill have stated that lengthening the statute of limitations helps the victims but does not detract from the rights of the accused, because the burden of proof will remain the same.

Current Laws on Statute of Limitations

Under Connecticut’s current laws, the statute of limitations in cases concerning sexual misconduct vary depending on a couple of different factors. Class A felonies have no statute of limitations -- they can be prosecuted at any time. These crimes include first degree sexual assault when force or the threat of force is used and the victim is under the age of 16, first degree sexual assault when the victim is under the age of 13 and the perpetrator is more than two years older than the victim, first degree aggravated sexual assault when a victim is under the age of 16, and aggravated sexual assault of a minor. Sexual assault or abuse cases that are not Class A felonies typically have a five-year statute of limitations, while misdemeanor cases typically have a one-year statute of limitations.

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