The law around sexual offences can be complicated, with one of the most highly contested elements of any case being that of consent.
Whilst legislation governing sexual consent has undergone substantial reform, it is not always well understood.
Sexual offence cases can be highly emotive and distressing, not only for the complainant, but also for the defendant, who may have genuinely believed that the other person consented to sexual activity.
As this area of law can seem so nuanced, it is vital that if you are under investigation for a sexual crime, you contact specialist sexual offence solicitors as soon as possible.
In this blog, we discuss the various types of sexual consent. We’ll also cover how you can tell whether or not a person consents to sexual activity, helping you to avoid getting on the wrong side of the law, as well as the people you care about.
Types of sexual consent
Sometimes, sexual consent isn’t as simple as whether someone says, “Yes,” or, “No”.
We’ve all verbally agreed to something at one time or another without actually wanting to do it. A person saying, “Yes,” when you ask them to have sex does not always indicate that they are consenting to it. They may simply be trying to be polite or avoid confrontation.
Informed sexual consent
This is when both parties have made a conscious and unambiguous decision to engage in sexual activity.
There are other types of consent, which we’ll look at below. Alone, any of the following elements may not be deemed enough to amount to demonstrating informed consent, depending upon the context.
If more than one type of consent is given, this is usually a strong indication that the other person gives their full consent to sexual activity.
Voluntary sexual consent
Sexual consent must be voluntary. If someone has been forced, threatened, or coerced into sexual activity, they are not able to give consent. It’s also important to note that silence does not equal consent, as a person may not voice their disagreement for a number of reasons.
Voluntary sexual consent can sometimes be disputed in sex cases involving BDSM, or in dominant/submissive relationships. This is why, even in these situations, it’s important to establish consent both before and during any sexual activity.
Revocable sexual consent
If a person consented to having sex on a Tuesday evening, this does not necessarily mean that they give their consent the following week, or even the following morning.
Even if you’re married, it’s vital to check that your partner is consenting and happy to participate in sexual activity every time.
No reason is needed for a person not to want to engage in sex. And if at any point during sex, your partner withdraws their consent, it’s vital that you stop what you are doing immediately.
Verbal sexual consent
Short of getting it in writing (which, let’s face it, could be very weird), verbal consent is the clearest and safest way to ensure that your partner is happy to engage in sexual activity with you.
Fortunately, this conversation does not have to be as awkward as, “Would you like to have sex with me?” followed by, “Yes, please.”
Instead, verbal sexual consent can involve your partner telling you that they like it when you touch them in a certain way, asking you to do something more, or using other words to express their enjoyment.
Non-verbal sexual consent
Some people don’t like talking much during sex. But that’s okay, as sexual consent can also involve non-verbal signs.
Body language is a great indicator or whether your partner gives their consent to sexual activity or not. Good examples of non-verbal sexual consent include:
- Nodding their head to indicate, ‘Yes.’
- Pulling you closer.
- Making eye contact and smiling.
- Touching you intimately without being forced or coerced.
- Initiating sexual activity.
To be on the safe side, if you get any response other than a clear and enthusiastic, “Yes,” from your partner, you should check that they give consent to any sexual activity. And a lack of resistance or silence do not equate to consent.
Been accused of a sexual offence?
Perhaps you did get full and informed consent from your partner, but they now allege that you assaulted them. Or maybe things are a little more complicated, and you’d like some legal advice from specialist sexual offence solicitors.
PCD Solicitors have years of experience in defending clients who have been accused of sexual offences. They have a long history of getting charges dropped before cases even make it to court.
If you’re being investigated for a sexual offence, get in touch for a free appointment with their helpful and non-judgemental team today. They will help you to understand any charges against you and talk through your options with you, without any obligation to instruct them.
You can call PCD Solicitors on 0151 7058488, or send a message using their online contact form for a swift response.