Proposed New Consent Standard for College Sexual Assault Cases
Sexual assault on college campuses occurs with alarming frequency. Among the most critical issues of fact in sexual assault cases is whether the alleged victim consented to the sexual activity. A proposed law would change the legal definition of consent in these cases.
Currently, Connecticut law provides that sexual assault in the first degree occurs when a person compels another to engage in sexual intercourse by the use of force, or the threat of use of force, against that person or a third person. As with any criminal charge, sexual assault must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for the accused to be found guilty.
Under the proposed law, the consent standard in sexual assault cases that occur on college campuses in Connecticut would become “affirmative consent.” The proposal is modeled after a recently-enacted California law, and provides that affirmative consent means “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” Failure to protest or resist, and remaining silent, would not constitute affirmative consent.
The requirement of affirmative consent would also serve to shift the focus of any subsequent inquiry from the alleged victim to the alleged perpetrator. It would attempt to clarify what the alleged perpetrator did to obtain consent rather than what the alleged victim did to indicate “no.”
In Connecticut, Yale University, the University of New Haven, and the University of Connecticut all have affirmative consent policies currently in place. The bill, however, would ensure that the same standard is used on all college campuses throughout the state.
An allegation of sexual assault is a very serious matter and can affect your life for a very long time. If you or someone you know has been accused of sexual assault on campus or off, it is important to have an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney at your side protecting your rights. Contact the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner today to learn about your defense options.