Sexual Assault Awareness
Sexual assault charges come in many different forms, and all of them are serious. Ultimately, most sexual assault charges involving adults hinge upon consent. Specifically, this means that most sexual assault cases come down to whether or not the accuser consented to the sexual act in question to begin with. A better understanding of how consent works in the State of Texas can help you avoid facing a sexual assault charge in the first place and can help you better protect yourself if you do.
He Said, She Said
Consent refers to whether both parties agree to the sexual act in question, and consent generally comes down to saying yes or no or to demonstrating one’s willingness to participate. This, however, is difficult to assess after the fact, and these cases often end up with one person’s word being weighed against the other’s. Juries typically find for the party whose statements are judged to be most credible. One of the best ways to avoid being in such a predicament in the first place is to better understand the laws of consent in Texas and to allow them to be your guide.
Sexual Assault Defined
Very generally, sexual assault refers to intentional sexual contact that is committed through force or by coercion or incapacitation with someone who does not consent. Sexual assault also applies if the victim is incapable of providing consent for any of the following reasons:
If the victim is a minor
If the victim is unconscious
If the victim is incapacitated by alcohol and/or drugs
If the victim is mentally ill
The Age of Consent
In the State of Texas, the age of consent to engage in sexual activity is 17. This means that, regardless of how enthusiastic a participant the individual is, he or she is incapable of providing the necessary legal consent by virtue of his or her age alone. Further, ignorance regarding the person’s age is not an adequate defense against a charge of sexual assault.
At the most basic level, consent means compliance or acquiescence with a proposition made by someone else. Sexual consent laws are quite exacting and include all of the following important highlights:
Consent refers to either clear words or clear actions (from someone who is competent to provide informed consent) that convey one’s agreement to freely enter into – with knowledge of its nature – the sexual act in question.
Consent to one sexual act does not translate to consent to other sexual acts.
A current or prior relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent.
Submission under the influence of fear is not consent.