Sexual Assault and Consent: What You Need to Know

Most people are unaware that consent, when related to sexual contact and intimacy is something that can be given and taken away at any time, with or without any notice. Far too often, especially with younger adults, they assume once someone gives them consent to have sex, it is withstanding and means they can have sex with the other person or touch them in a sexual manner as often as they want.

Unfortunately, this is how many young adults find themselves being contacted by the police for questioning on allegations of sexual assault. As already mentioned consent is not a “one-and-done” deal. A person has the right to give their consent and engage in sexual behaviours one time, and then withdraw the consent later, and refuse to participate willingly in future sexual encounters.

Further complicating matters, is there are varying degrees of sexual consent one can give and take away. Understanding this key concept and how consent works is beneficial as it can help prevent finding yourself in a situation where you are being charged with sexual assault. To illustrate how consent works, we will review a few different scenarios.

Scenario 1

You take a person out for a fun night on the town. Upon returning to their home at the end of the night, they invite you in. At this point, the person has only consented to allowing you to enter their home – nothing more. After entering the home, you talk and this leads to consensual kissing and touching of a sexual manner.

Now, this is where things often become confusing for most young adults. The person has consented to kissing and being touched in a sexual manner, but has not consent to having actual sex. Some people might misconstrue the consent given thus far, as an invitation and consent to have sex, yet it is not. If you attempt to take things further and the person says no, and you do not stop, you have now committed sexual assault.

Scenario 2

You have been dating the same person for several months, and during this time both of you have engaged in consensual sex on a regular basis. One evening, you want to have sex, yet your partner tells you they are tired but initially consent. A short while later, they tell you to stop because they are drifting off to sleep. At this point, consent has been withdrawn, and if you continue to have sex, you have committed sexual assault.

Scenario 3

You and your partner are at a party. Everyone is having a good time and over the course of the evening, your partner drinks a little too much. After helping them home, you decide you want to have sex, even though your partner is barely conscious. Since they are in a condition, where they cannot give consent, if you engage in sex with them you are committing sexual assault.

As you can see, consent is rather complex and confusing. The best course of action, to protect yourself, is to ensure you always obtain verbal confirmation from the other person and respect their decision if they tell you no, tell you to stop, or are in a condition where they are not able to give consent.

In the event you are contacted by the police to come in for an interview or questioning related to an alleged sexual assault, it is in your best interest to ensure your rights are protected by contacting Toronto criminal defence lawyer, Rishma Gupta, by calling 416-844-8467 immediately.


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