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Common defenses to sexual assault charges

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2016 | Firm News, Sex Offenses |

Sexual assault refers to any non-consensual, offensive and unwanted sexual touching by the alleged offender. There are several different types of sexual offenses ranging from rape to assault and battery. The elements of sexual assault require it to be proved that:

  • There was sexual contact
  • Sexual contact was involuntary, and
  • The offender used force or coercion.

If the victim did not possess the mental ability to comprehend the nature of the sexual acts committed by the offender, then the victim’s incapacitation will be considered as a factor in determining his or her lack of consent.

There are several common defenses claimed by alleged offenders to protect themselves from prosecution. One such defense is innocence. Defendants usually claim that they were not present at the scene of the crime and were in fact at a different location when the crime was committed. This is known as an “alibi, ” and the defendant must provide reliable evidence to support his claim.

Another common defense is to claim that the victim mistook the defendant to be the perpetrator. The defendant’s aim is to raise a reasonable doubt as to whether he or she was the one who committed the offense.

Another common defense is to claim that the victim consented to the sexual assault. Lack of consent is an essential element to establish liability for sexual assault and without this element, the defendant should not be held liable.

Defendants also use the victim’s past sexual activities to establish their innocence.  However,  if the victim is a minor or does not possess the mental capacity to comprehend the gravity of the situation, it can be very difficult to establish the consent defense.

Different states have different standards on the level of care required by the defendant to determine the ability of the victim to consent. Some states allow a mistake regarding consent if the defendant acted less than negligently while other states have adopted a strict liability standard.

Being accused of a sexual offense is a very sensitive issue as it can be extremely damaging to your reputation and will adversely affect your day to day activities. Therefore, it is important to consult a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to gain advice regarding the defenses you may be able to use.