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Understanding the Issue of Consent in Sexual Assault Cases

 Posted on June 09, 2023 in Sex Offenses

DuPage County Sexual Assault Defense LawyerThere are a variety of situations where people may be charged with sex crimes, and sexual assault is one of the most serious of these offenses. In Illinois, individuals accused of this crime face significant penalties, including jail time, fines, and a lifetime of stigma. Unfortunately, there are some situations where people may be falsely accused of sexual assault or where the parties involved in a situation may disagree about what actually happened. Sexual assault cases will often rest on the issue of consent, and criminal charges may be based on claims that a person engaged in sexual behavior without receiving consent from the other party. Because consent is a key factor that may determine whether a person will be convicted on sexual assault charges, it is important to understand how this issue will be addressed during a criminal case.

What Is Consent?

In general, consent refers to giving permission for something to happen or agreeing to engage in certain activities or conduct. In the context of sexual activities, consent involves a person agreeing to engage in sexual intercourse or sexual contact. To be considered consensual, sexual activity must be voluntary, and both parties must mutually agree to engage in intercourse or other sexual acts. Consent must be given by someone who is capable of understanding what is happening, and it can be withdrawn at any time. If a person is unable to give consent, any sexual activities that another party engages in with that person may be considered sexual assault.

How Does Illinois Law Define Consent?

Illinois law states that content is "a freely given agreement to the act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct." The law also notes that if a person did not resist when someone used force against them to commit sexual acts, their submission or lack of resistance does not constitute consent. In addition, provocative clothing or other issues related to how a person was dressed do not affect consent. Violations of consent may involve the use of force or threats to inflict injuries, but a person may also be accused of sexual assault if they used coercion or if the alleged victim was incapable of giving consent. When a person is charged with sexual assault, the prosecution will be required to prove that the defendant knew that the victim did not provide consent.

The Issue of Capacity to Consent

One of the key issues that may be addressed in sexual assault cases involves a person's capacity to give consent. If the victim allegedly did not understand the nature of the acts or was unable to give knowing consent to engage in sexual activity, charges of criminal sexual assault may apply. This factor can be especially important in sexual assault cases involving alleged victims who had mental or physical disabilities that prevented them from understanding what was happening or made them unable to communicate their desires. Capacity to consent will also be an issue in cases where a person is accused of engaging in sexual intercourse or sexual conduct with a person who was unconscious or intoxicated. In some cases, the use of "date rape" drugs or other substances that rendered a person incapable of giving consent may lead to increased charges and penalties.

Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse Charges Involving Consent

The offense of criminal sexual assault may apply if a person allegedly engaged in sexual penetration through the use of force or threats or in situations where they knew that the alleged victim did not give knowing consent. This offense is usually charged as a Class 1 felony. Charges of criminal sexual abuse may apply if a person allegedly engaged in sexual conduct other than intercourse with someone without receiving consent. The age of consent in Illinois is 17, and a child under that age is generally considered to be incapable of giving consent to engage in sexual activity. An adult may be charged with criminal sexual abuse if they allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse or sexual conduct with a child between the ages of 13 and 17, although these charges will not apply if the adult was no more than five years older than the child. Criminal sexual abuse is generally charged as a Class 4 felony, although Class A misdemeanor charges may apply in situations where a person is accused of engaging in sexual activity with a minor under the age of 17.

Contact Our DuPage County Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer

Consent is one of the most critical factors that may play a role in Illinois sexual assault cases, and defendants who are facing these charges will need to understand how to address claims that they did not receive consent from an alleged victim. At Law Office of Philip R. Nathe, our Naperville sex crimes defense attorney can help determine the best ways to address this issue and defend against a conviction. We work to help people who have been accused of sexual assault protect their rights and their reputation. To arrange a free consultation and get the defense you need in these situations, contact our office at 630-416-7600.



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