The idea of consent, or voluntary agreement, is one of the most difficult areas of criminal law to navigate. What exactly constitutes consent in a legal setting has varied by society for thousands of years. For a long time, implied consent was a much more broadly and vaguely applied idea (for instance, a wife might have been considered to always consent to sexual acts with her husband by the very fact that they were married).
In more recent years, consent has begun to play a role as an argument for defense in criminal cases, leading stricter interpretations of what specific actions or words constitute agreement, as well as the methods used to obtain this agreement.
Areas of Consent
Examples of cases in which consent is a major factor include:
- Contact sports such as boxing, in which part of the rules of the game permit physical violence and even physical injury. Consent to do harm in this case is limited by the regulations of the sport; thus, hitting an opponent after the bell rings or the whistle blows could be considered assault.
- Almost all states have rules governing the age at which consent can be granted in sexual partnerships. For example, in California, sex with a minor (someone under the age of 18) when the other person is more than three years his or her senior is unlawful no matter what the minor says or does.
- A certain degree of information must be provided by health care professionals for a patient’s agreement to a treatment to be considered valid. If expectations in this area are not met, the health care provider can be held liable in the event of a complication.
For more information on how the legal idea of consent affects your actions and relationships with others, contact the San Jose criminal defense lawyers at the Law Office of Daniel Jensen, P.C. at (408) 296-4100.