When “Consent” Doesn’t Help

Maybe it’s stating the obvious, but there can be some pretty sticky hang-ups to using the “consent” defense in a criminal trial.

First of all, if the person who gave consent had no authority to do so (for example, I can’t give someone consent to take money from the Post Office), then consent clearly can’t stand.

Second, if the person who gave consent (usually the victim in this case) was in no physical or mental condition for that consent to hold any weight – e.g., because of youth, intoxication, mental illness, or general wackiness – then the fact that he or she consented doesn’t mean anything in court.

Third, if someone is forced to give their consent by the use of blackmail or threat of harm in any way, then this is not consent at all but forced submission.

And, finally, if the act consented to – say, intercourse between an adult man and an adult woman – is for some reason illegal by statute (for example, if one party received payment), then consent means nothing.

So, next time you’re about to force a retarded, underage foreigner to give you permission to see a prostitute he’s never met before, think twice: “consent” will do you no good in court!

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