Can You Be Charged with Sexual Assault if the Other Person Was Drunk (New Jersey)?

Sexual assault is a very serious, sometimes violent offense that carries enormously harsh penalties. Sexual assault cases can be very complicated as the assault could have occurred under a number of different circumstances and conditions. In many cases, a sexual encounter is considered assault because the victim did not consent to sex. In other cases, a victim is legally incapable of providing consent. Sexual assault is especially tricky when alcohol is involved.

To put it simply, you can absolutely be charged with sexual assault in New Jersey if the other person was drunk. However, the issue may be more complicated, and the facts surrounding an assault can be unclear. The underlying factor in nearly all sexual assault cases is the victim’s consent. Without consent, a sexual encounter may be considered an assault. However, providing consent is not always as simple as saying yes or no. People who are intoxicated might be incapable of providing consent because of their impaired mindset.

If you had a drunken sexual encounter and now the other person is accusing you of sexual assault, you need to speak with an attorney immediately. Our Ocean City sexual assault defense lawyers can help you fight the charges against and clear your name. Many sexual assault allegations are based on flimsy or unreliable evidence, yet defendants often receive very little support from the justice system. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to set up a private, free legal consultation.

How Alcohol Affects Your Partners Ability to Consent to Sex in New Jersey

A sexual assault allegation turns on the lack of consent from the alleged victim. It is common in sexual assault cases for the alleged victim to argue that they were too intoxicated or drunk to provide consent. Alcohol tends to lower a person’s inhibitions and make them feel good. This is why alcohol is commonly found at parties. However, the more a person drinks, the more likely they are to make decisions they ordinarily would not make. Some people drink so much that they cannot clearly remember the events of the alleged sexual assault.

While being intoxicated may call into question a person’s ability to provide consent, a single drink does not necessarily absolve that person of their responsibility for their choices and actions. Even a person drinking at a party or in a bar can provide consent to have sex. However, heavily intoxicated people may be incapable of providing valid consent for sex because their mindset is too impaired. The success of your defense will depend greatly on just how intoxicated the alleged victim really was.

Having sex with someone who is drunk means walking a fine line between drunk sex and sexual assault. Our Sea Isle City sexual assault defense lawyers can help you challenge the accusations against you and help you return to your normal life. Call our offices for help today.

The Connection Between Alcohol and Sexual Assault

The prevalence of alcohol in your sexual assault case may impact the outcome of your charges. Alcohol and sexual offenses or assaults are so often intertwined that the presence of alcohol in your case may make a jury more inclined to find you guilty.

The connection between drugs and alcohol and sexual assault is well-known, and numerous studies have documented drug- or alcohol-facilitated assault and abuse. For example, according to an NIH study titled “Alcohol and Sexual Assault,” at least 25% of women in the United States have experienced sexual assault. Not only that, but about half of those cases involved alcohol.

A January 2012 White House report titled “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action” noted that a significant portion of rape cases took place at parties, implying a strong connection between intoxication and sex crimes. The White House analysis also commented that perpetrators often drink alcohol because they believe it increases their sex drive. Perpetrators also tend to think that when another person is drinking, they are also interested in having sex.

While alcohol may be prevalent in sexual assault charges, that does not mean intoxication is an excuse for defendants. On the contrary, the victim’s state of intoxication can actually make the charges (and potential penalties) even more severe. Challenging your charges will mean challenging the intoxication of the alleged victim. Call our New Jersey sexual assault defense attorneys for guidance on the matter.

New Jersey Rape Prosecution and Victim Intoxication

New Jersey’s sexual assault laws can be found under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2, which divides sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault into two separate offenses. While both are graded as felonies (known in New Jersey as indictable crimes), aggravated sexual assault is the more serious offense because of the circumstances under which it is charged. To give just a few examples, these circumstances might involve causing injury to the victim, sexually assaulting a victim who is 12 years old or younger, or assaulting an individual who is incapable of giving consent, such as a heavily intoxicated individual.

Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2(7), a defendant can be charged with aggravated sexual assault when they should have known that the victim was physically or mentally incapacitated and unable to provide valid consent for sex. This could potentially include incapacitation by drugs and/or alcohol. When a person is so intoxicated that you should know that they cannot consent to sex, any sexual encounter may be charged as sexual assault.

Sexual assault charges can be frightening because they can be difficult to disprove. In many cases, a defendant has no proof of consent after a sexual encounter, and they do not know how to convince a jury they did not assault anyone. However, you cannot be convicted based on mere accusations. Call our New Jersey sexual assault defense lawyers for help fighting your charges.

How is Drunk Sex Different from Sexual Assault in New Jersey?

While alcohol can interfere with a person’s ability to consent to sex, not every case of drunk sex is a sexual assault. For example, if someone agrees to go to bed with you and they regret that choice the next day, they cannot claim you sexually assaulted them because they are ashamed or embarrassed about consenting to sex. While they may feel having sex was a mistake, that does not mean their consent was invalid.

All the same, this is a highly complex area of law, and many factors must be weighed during the trial. In general, there is no clear-cut rule or standard for proving an alleged victim was too intoxicated to give consent to sex. Instead, prosecutors and the police must examine the totality of the circumstances when deciding if a sexual assault occurred. There are multiple factors involved in this analysis, many of which will vary from case to case. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The extent to which the victim was intoxicated. This includes:
    • Whether the victim could communicate.
    • Whether the victim was conscious.
    • Whether the victim was in a responsive or unresponsive state.
    • Whether the victim “blacked out” or experienced memory loss.
  • Whether physical force was used against the victim.
  • Whether the victim (or defendant) had any incentive to lie about the events that transpired.
  • The extent to which the defendant was intoxicated. A sober defendant will look very predatory compared to an intoxicated victim.
  • Whether the defendant has a history of prior offenses.

This variety of influential factors gives us multiple possible defense strategies. For example, the alleged victim may have been highly intoxicated, but if you were too, we could argue that you believed you were given consent under the circumstances. On the other hand, if the alleged victim had been drinking but showed no signs of heavy intoxication like slurred speech or difficulty standing, then we can argue you had no reason to think they were incapable of consenting to sex. Our South Jersey sexual assault defense lawyers will help you craft the most effective defense strategy for your case.

Reach Out to Our New Jersey Sexual Assault Defense Lawyers

If you have been charged with sexual assault in New Jersey, you face decades in prison, heavy fines, and mandatory registration as a sex offender. You need an experienced Atlantic City criminal defense attorney protecting your rights. To set up a free, confidential legal consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 today.

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