Consensual Non-Consensuality

Making the law significantly more complicated for the average person, consent is not purely a matter of agreement or refusal. Instead, the result of a particular act may invalidate previous signals of consent, as agreeing to a specific act does not equate to agreeing to everything associated with it. In terms of sexual consent, this can make some otherwise valid expressions of sexuality legally confusing.

To learn more about legal concerns surrounding consent and how these problems can affect your defense case, contact Massachusetts sex crimes attorney James Powderly today at 508-343-0676.

When Does Consent Fail?

Under the principle known as consensual non-consensuality, it is possible for two people to expressly state their consent prior to engaging in a sex act, and yet for criminal and civil issues to still arise afterward. Although this is most commonly associated with sexual behaviors that involve intentionally harsh physical interactions upon which the parties initially agree, consensual non-consensuality can also apply elsewhere. Other situations in which it may come into play include:

  • Statutory rape between two minors
  • Sex acts after one person loses consciousness
  • Serious injuries from sex acts
  • Sex acts that are illegal in that state

From a legal perspective, these situations may be problematic due to either insufficient consent or the simultaneous commission of another crime. In some situations, two consenting adults may even sign a contract of consent, which is used to remove confusion with the consent process and potential civil litigation. This may not solve issues with criminality, however.

Contact Us

Charges for sex crimes are extremely serious and can do permanent damage to a person’s reputation and professional opportunities. For more information regarding your rights if you have been charged with a sex crime, contact Massachusetts sex crimes attorney James Powderly by calling 508-343-0676 today.


Interview with a Former DUI Client