Certified Criminal Trial Attorney

If I Was Drunk, Can I Be Charged for Sexual Assault?

If I Was Drunk, Can I Be Charged for Sexual Assault?

Sexual Assault Overview

A criminal or civil charge of sexual assault does not require intent to commit sexual assault on the part of the accused for such a charge to be successful. This is usually the case when the accused was intoxicated at the time of the assault. When there isn’t evidence that the accused intended to sexually assault the victim, it can be more difficult to find sufficient proof for a sexual assault claim or criminal charge to move forward.

Intoxication of the Victim and the Accused

In cases where both the accused and the victim were severely intoxicated, it can be difficult to prosecute or defend against a civil or criminal claim of sexual assault. If the accused was highly intoxicated, he or she may not remember the incident and therefore may be unable to assist in his or her defense. Similarly, if the victim was so intoxicated as to remember little about the incident, it can be incredibly difficult to pursue a sexual assault claim or criminal charge since the victim is unable to offer much detail and his or her intoxication may provide an avenue to challenge the victim’s credibility or recollection.

Evidence Against the Accused

If the victim is able to recall the incident, his or her testimony is often the most critical evidence in a civil claim or criminal charge of sexual assault. Even if the victim was also drunk at the time of the incident and has limited recall of the details, other evidence can support a civil claim or criminal charge. For example, eyewitnesses may be able to fill in many of the details that a victim who was intoxicated at the time of the assault cannot remember. In addition, there may be physical evidence of sexual assault, including positive results from a rape kit, physical trauma elsewhere on the victim’s body, or defensive wounds on the accused.

Consent

Even if an accused does not intend to sexually assault a victim, he or she can still commit sexual assault if he or she engages in sexual contact with the victim without the victim’s consent. For example, an intoxicated accused may engage in sexual relations with the victim whiile the victim is unconscious due to intoxication. Intoxication in sexual assault cases can cause factual and legal complexities when the accused and victim are in a sexual or romantic relationship or marriage where it is reasonable to expect they would engage in sexual relations. Of course, just because someone is in a relationship with someone else does not mean they have to consent to every single sexual encounter. Many people lack a full understanding of the concept of consent or understanding of when a partner has affirmatively consented to a sexual encounter. 

As a result, in sexual assault cases involving intoxication of the accused and/or the victim, it can be difficult to establish that there was a lack of consent, especially when the parties are already in a relationship. For example, while it is perfectly possible to withdraw consent at any time during a sexual encounter, if a victim was intoxicated during an incident and he or she cannot remember details, it may be difficult for a prosecutor or a civil or criminal jury to determine whether a victim may have initially consented but then withdrew consent or fell unconscious during the sexual encounter.

Contact an Experienced Haddon Township Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Sexual Assault Charges in New Jersey

Were you arrested or charged with sexual assault in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The Law Office of Jill R. Cohen has successfully represented clients charged with sexual assault in Pennsauken, Voorhees, Lindenwold, Collingswood, and throughout New Jersey. Call (856) 242-7177 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 210 Haddon Ave., Haddon Township, NJ 08108.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.