July 11, 2014 By Stephen Klarich
Rape laws
SB 967 could make things difficult for college students

A newly proposed California bill is taking aim at the issue of rape on college campuses, by introducing the idea of “affirmative consent.” Under Senate Bill 967, college students who are sexually active would be required to obtain explicit, verbal consent from their partners before engaging in sexual activity.1

If passed, the bill would place the responsibility on the person initiates the sexual activity, to make sure his or her partner has clearly and explicitly agreed to it. This differs from current California law, in that the burden currently lies on the accuser or victim.

Today, if an accuser feels that she has been raped, for example, it is her responsibility to prove that she resisted or explicitly said “no.” In order to convict the accused, prosecutors must show that the alleged victim did not consent to the sexual act, or she was too intoxicated to do so.2

This proposed legislation completely shifts the burden of proof from this “no means no” policy, to an explicit “yes.” As a result, if you are accused of rape, under the new bill you would not be able to use alcohol or drug intoxication as a defense for not knowing or comprehending that the other person was not consenting. Also under Senate Bill 967, an explicit dating relationship between two partners would not qualify as explicit consent for sexual activity.3 Both parties must always say “yes.”

How Does This Change an On-Campus Sexual Assault Case?

Some of the common defenses against a sexual assault accusation on a college campus today are:

  • There was consent because either he, or both parties were intoxicated;
  • There was consent because his partner was not resisting or was silent;
  • There was consent because they were in a consensual relationship.4

The Senate Bill eliminates some of these common defenses for the accused. If the proposed legislation passes, it is up to the accused to take the necessary steps to make sure there was consent. If you did not take these steps, or the other party’s response was not an explicit “yes,” you must stop the sexual act immediately.

On a college campus, where sex, alcohol, and the combination of both seem to be commonplace, students must be especially carefully. If the law is passed, either party being “too intoxicated” is not enough to assume consent. This means that individuals engaging in sexual activity must keep the presence of mind to ask for consent, despite the circumstances.

Even if you are dating someone, you cannot assume sex is consensual every single time. Regardless of how serious your relationship is with your partner, the new law, if passed, would require you to obtain consent.

Sexual Assault Victims on Campus

According to California Senator Kevin De Leon, one out of every five women on a college campus will be sexually assaulted. The bill serves to protect these women by clearly defining the term “consent.”5

Even if an alleged victim did not say “no,” Senate Bill 967 provides circumstances in which consent could not have been given:

  • The person was asleep or unconscious;
  • The person was too intoxicated by drugs, alcohol, or medication; and
  • The person was unable to give consent because of a mental or physical condition.

These circumstances seem to be very common at college parties. In an environment where drugs and alcohol are widespread, it is not unlikely that a person is too intoxicated to say “yes” or “no” to sex. The bill provides protection for victims who are in this predicament.

More importantly, this shows how much the responsibility lies with the person accused of sexual assault. At college parties, you must be extremely careful when engaging in sexual activity, particularly when drugs and alcohol are present. Even if you find yourself in a sexual situation with a partner, he or she may be too intoxicated to give explicit consent. If this is at all the case, you must immediately stop the act.

Punishments for a Sexual Assault Conviction

In California, the consequences of a sexual assault conviction will not only affect your criminal record, but possibly ruin your academic future. You may face:

  • 24, 36, or 48 months in state prison;
  • Fines up to $10,000; and
  • Expulsion from your college/university.6

A sentence for sexual assault can have a grave impact on your future, which is why you need to fight these allegations aggressively.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you are accused of sexual assault on your college campus or elsewhere, prosecutors are going to try to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the other person did not consent, and you still pursued the sexual activity. If Senate Bill 967 passes, you bear even more responsibility for engaging in sexual activity with a partner.  An experienced attorney can help you achieve the best possible legal outcome and get you moving forward with your college career as quickly as possible. Our attorneys at Wallin and Klarich have successfully defended those accused of sexual assault for over 30 years.

With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, one of our experienced attorneys is available for you no matter where you live.

Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 to discuss your case. We will get through this together.

1. http://www.southerncaliforniadefenseblog.com/2014/02/proposed_affirmative_consent_l.html

2. Id.

3. Id.

4. Id.

5. http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/06/05/new-calif-bill-requires-consent-before-sex-on-college-campuses/

6. http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/sexual-assault-penalties-and-sentencing.html

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