If you are like many in Grand Forks, a typically date for you may involve good conversation at a local bar or restaurant aided by a couple of drinks to help break the ice. Oftentimes, such an encounter may progress on to intimate contact with your dating partner. You may view such contact as being consensual, yet later discover that your partner may not have shared the same opinion. This is typically how date rape allegations begin.

Successfully defending yourself against a charge of date rape may require an understanding of how the state of Minnesota defines consent. According to state law, consent is defined as “words or overt actions by a person indicating a freely given present agreement to perform a particular sexual act with the actor.” If in an encounter similar to the one described above you believe that your partner gave an indication that he or she was willing to engage in sexual contact, then you may be able to argue that the terms of consent were met.

However, the law goes on to say that one who is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless is unable to give consent. The state defines one as being physically helpless when he or she is:

  •          Unconscious or asleep
  •          Unable to refuse consent due to conditional restraints
  •          Unable to communicate his or her dissent (and you know this to be the case)

Similarly, mentally incapacitated is classified as one being under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or anesthetics.

Thus, it may appear that any sexual contact that may have involved alcohol or intoxication cannot be considered consensual. Yet the law goes on to state that in order to assign criminality in such a case, it may have to be proved that you administered the alcohol without your partner’s knowledge and/or agreement.