The first semester at college can be an exciting time in the life of a young man or woman. Newly free from your parents’ rules, the world can feel like it is yours to explore. You can make new friends, go to parties, and the only person setting your curfew is you.
Unfortunately, all of that new freedom and all of those new people can have you facing a whole set of new problems. Can you be sure that girl you hooked up with at the fraternity party understood that you were not looking to start a relationship? Was that guy drunk when he said he wanted to have sex with you, and that he and his girlfriend have an “open” relationship? Spend one night with the wrong person, and you could be falsely accused of rape, facing a lifetime of devastating consequences if you get convicted for a crime you did not commit.
Research indicates that as many as 10% of all reported rapes turn out to be false. 1 Some are outright lies, where the alleged victim makes up the story because they are ashamed of what they did, or because they do not want to damage a relationship with their girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse by admitting that they were unfaithful. 2 Other alleged victims do not remember because they had too much to drink. In any event, you can avoid putting yourself in this kind of situation by remembering some simple steps before you leave your dorm room.
1. “Yes Means Yes”
If you are a college student in California, you need to be aware that as of September 2014, the law now requires California universities to enact “affirmative consent” rules. “Affirmative consent” means an affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. 3 This means that you must get a clear “yes” from the other person before engaging in sexual activity, and they must continue to give you permission throughout the activity. This is true even if you have an ongoing relationship with this person, and even if you have had sex with them in the past.
While this law does not apply to criminal cases (criminal rape is found in Penal Code Section 261), it does control university discipline cases. If you are falsely accused of rape, you will have to prove in your disciplinary hearing that you had consent throughout the entire activity or you could be expelled from school, even if the accusation does not hold up in a criminal case.
2. Get It On the Record
As unappealing and unsexy as it sounds, “safe” sex in California may now involve documenting your partner’s consent. This will give you some evidence in the event that you end up being falsely accused in the future. You do not need to draw up a complicated contract; it can be done with simple text messages, both before and after you have sex. There are even smartphone applications that you can use to record your partner’s affirmative consent. It may not be the most fun part of your night, but it could be the smartest thing you do.
3. Drunk Means No
An important part of both the affirmative consent and criminal rape laws is the idea that a person cannot consent to sex if they are incapacitated because they are intoxicated, unconscious, asleep, or unable to communicate because of a mental or physical condition. Though many people drink for the purpose of lowering their inhibitions and making themselves more comfortable with having sex, the safer path to avoiding a false accusation of rape is to not engage with someone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Contact the Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich To Learn More
If you are a student who has been accused of a sexual assault, you have an uphill battle on your hands, and continuing your education could depend upon choosing an experienced and aggressive attorney. Wallin & Klarich has been successfully defending people accused of rape for over 30 years. Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation and let us help you, too.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney experienced in sex crime laws near you no matter where you go to school or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
1. [David Lisak et al., “False Allegations of Sexual Assault: An Analysis of Ten Years of Reported Cases,” Violence Against Women 16, no. 12 (2010): 1318-1334.]↩
2. [Cathy Young, “Crying Rape” Slate.com, available at: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2014/09/false_rape_accusations_why_must_be_pretend_they_never_happen.html]↩
3. [Cal. Ed. Code § 67386(a)(1), as amended by SB 967, available at https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB967. In February 2014, the University of California adopted this language into its policy on sexual harassment and sexual violence, available at http://policy.ucop.edu/doc/4000385/SHSV.]↩