People who have suffered from unwanted physical contact may feel relieved at the news coverage that has focused on sexual assault on college campuses and in other environments. However, you may feel that determining what sexual attentions are wanted or unwanted may be difficult, even though you may be familiar with the phrase, “No means no.” At the Law Office of John J. Leunig, we often answer questions of those who are uncertain about how Minnesota defines consent, and how that affects any given situation.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, or RAINN, explains that by understanding what is meant by consent, you may more easily be able to identify when sexual advances are not welcome, and avoid the potential for an accusation of rape. For example, no situation between two people in the past is valid when determining whether consent is given in the present. So, the person you are interested in must either say that the sexual act is welcome, or must overtly make it known.

Even when there is obvious verbal consent to engage in a sex act, there are factors that negate its validity. One of these is age, and this includes both your age and the age of the person who has verbally agreed to the contact. For example, a 16-year-old may give consent, but a 15-year-old may only legally give consent to a person who is no more than 48 months older. Alcohol may also be a factor, but this is primarily true if a person is intoxicated to the point of physical helplessness. More information about sex crimes is available on our web page.

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