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What is Sexual Assault?

A sexual assault is the non-consensual sexual contact or touching of another. The act is done with violence or force. Unlike sexual battery, having actual non-consensual intercourse isn’t part of the crime. On California college campus, determining whether a sexual assault occurred depends on the affirmative consent standard.

What is Affirmative Consent Standard?

The affirmative consent standard is the conscious and voluntary agreement between two or more individuals to engage in sexual activity. Basically the term “yes means yes” defines consent. This means the following doesn’t provide affirmative consent:

  • Silence
  • Previous sexual relationship
  • Current dating relationship

Does Consent Have to be Verbal?

No. A person can provide non-verbal consent to convey disinterest in engaging in sexual activity.

What Happens If I Was Impaired at the Time the Sexual Activity Happened?

Affirmative consent doesn’t exist when the sexual partner reasonably should have known or actually knew the individual was:

  • Asleep
  • Incapacitated because of medication, alcohol, or drugs
  • Unconscious
  • Unable to communicate because of a physical or mental condition

Can I Change My Mind at Any Time Under the Affirmative Consent Law?

Yes, the law requires parties to renew the consent each time the sexual activity escalates. The law also makes it explicit that affirmative consent can be revoked at any time during sexual activity.

What Happens When One Person Claims Sexual Assault and the Other Says Different?

The law places the burden on the party claiming not to give consent. However, the other party must prove that consent occurred too. The burden of proof may shift from one party to another until administrators determine if a sexual assault occurred.

Do I Need to Talk to an Attorney about the Affirmative Consent Law?

It’s vital to talk to an attorney about whether a sexual assault took place and your rights.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 10-10-2016 08:49 PM PDT

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