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The Role of Consent in Sexual Assault Cases

Sex Crimes

Texas Penal Code 22.011 is the law concerning sexual assault.

The statute provides that if any of the following is done intentionally and knowingly without the other person’s consent, the act is considered rape:

  • Penetration of the other person’s anus or sexual organs;
  • Penetration of the other person’s mouth by the actor’s sexual organ; or
  • Penetration of the actor’s anus, mouth, or sexual organ by the other person’s sexual organ

The key thing to note here is that sexual assault occurred when the actor did not have the other person’s permission to engage in the conduct. In many cases, the focus is on whether or not consent was given. What one person may have perceived as consent may not have been considered such by the other person.

What Is Consent?

Generally speaking, consent is when someone gives permission for something to happen. Given in either words or actions, consent must be voluntary and coherent. Thus, the person must not have been coerced into agreeing to have sex with the actor, and they must not have been so incapacitated that they were unaware of what was happening or unable to resist.

Without consent, sexual conduct is considered rape, which is a serious sex crime.

States have varying definitions of consent. Texas law essentially defines it by when it is not given.

What Is “Without Consent”?

Under Subsection (b) of Texas Penal Code 22.011, a sexual act is considered to have been without consent under the following situations:

  • The actor uses physical force, violence, or coercion to get the other person to participate;
  • The actor threatens harm to the other person, and the other person believes they were capable of following through with the threat;
  • The other person is unconscious or physically unable to resist;
  • The other person has a mental disease or defect that makes them unable to appraise the situation or resist the conduct;
  • The actor knows the other person is unaware they are being sexually assaulted;
  • The actor threatens violence against any other person and the other person believes they may carry out the threat;
  • The actor uses their role as a public servant to coerce the other person to participate in the act;
  • The actor is a social worker, chemical dependency counselor, licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, member of the clergy, or psychologist, and they exploit the other person’s emotional dependency to get them to engage in sexual conduct; or
  • The actor works at a facility where the other person is a resident

If the other person is under 17 years of age, regardless of whether the actor knows that, any sexual conduct with the person is considered nonconsensual.

If you have been accused of sexual assault in Houston, retain legal representation as soon as possible. At Drehner Law, we’ll thoroughly review your case to develop a defense tailored for you. Call us at 832-626-0063 or contact us online.

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