Using Consent as a Criminal Defense

16 January 2018
 Categories: Law, Blog

Some acts are only criminal if you commit them without the victim's consent. For example, when someone steps into a boxing ring to fight, you can punch them without getting accused of any crime. However, punching someone without their consent is a considered criminal assault. This is why you can use consent as a defense to a crime. Before you continue with the defense, just know that you may only succeed if the following holds true:

The Person Had the Authority to Consent

You can only succeed with the consent defense if the alleged victim had the authority to consent in the first place. This means the person must have owned the item or service that was affected by the consent; you can't consent to an act that affects something you don't own or have rights to.

For example, if you have been accused of trespassing and you are using consent as a defense, you must prove that the person who consented to your access to the property had the authority to do so. This usually means that the person owns, manages or controls the property in a legal way.

The Person Was Able to Consent

Some mental states make people unable to give consent either temporarily or permanently. The person giving the consent should be aware of what is wrong and what is right as well as the consequences of what they are consenting to. Therefore, if your alleged victim was in a mental state where they weren't aware of your actions, then you can't use consent as a defense. A good example is when the alleged victim was intoxicated or mentally ill at the time of the accident.

The Law Allows the Person to Consent

There are some cases where the law doesn't allow consent irrespective of anything else; in short, there are no exceptions. In such cases, it doesn't even matter if the alleged victim comes forward and testifies that they consented to the act and weren't wronged in any way; the law will still prosecute the perpetrator. A classic example of this is statutory rape, which is defined as sexual intercourse with a minor. This means a person accused of statutory rape cannot use consent as a defense because the law doesn't allow minors to consent to sexual acts.

The Consent Wasn't Voluntary

Lastly, you may only use consent as a defense if it was voluntarily given. This means your defense will be thrown out if the alleged victim can prove that you coerced them or even forced them to give the consent. For example, if you threaten your boss into giving you free use of the car, you cannot claim that the use of the car was consensual if the boss can prove the threat.

To learn more about how consent factors into your case, contact law firms like The Fitzpatrick Law Firm.