This complex case is common on a college campus. Students work hard. They attend lectures and study halls. They try for the best grades. So these same students can play hard. College life often intertwines a life of study and a “party life”. Alcohol isn’t restricted to just parties. It is also used to help students relax and unwind, but unfortunately, each time it is used in excess, it opens a difficult and slippery slope to intoxicated and/or incapacitated actions.
The distinction between intoxicated and incapacitated is small and sometimes difficult to define. An accuser will try to make the point that they were too intoxicated to consent to a sexual encounter, which can be a tricky case to prove or disprove.
Intoxicated or Incapacitated?
The gray area between these two is not fully understood in either criminal courts or a campus panel. The following paragraphs outline the couple common understandings of what it means to be intoxicated or incapacitated.
Incapacitated is the total inability to make ration judgements, physically or mentally. This person cannot consent to sexual activity. It does not need to be just a person who has done excessive drugs or alcohol. Anyone passed out, sleeping, or with certain intellectual disability is not able to consent. So the conclusion that both the accused and the accuser will be seeking is whether the accuser was simply drunk, or if they were incapacitated and unable to consent.
The accused has to present evidence that the accuser was drunk, but not so drunk that they didn’t know what they were doing. Finding evidence to support this can be tricky if you are handling it all on your own. Experienced attorneys can help you build your case and help you to communicate clearly to school authorities.
Witnesses are Needed
The people who were around the incident can give their own personal account of the events. A testimony that supports that you and the accuser were both fine could significantly help your case. On the contrary, if the accuser was stumbling, vomiting or passed out and a witness verifies this, it will be much more difficult to convince the school in your favor.
How Do I Defend Myself?
It is easy and natural to fall back on two statements in defense: the accuser initiated the contact, and/or claiming to also have been incapacitated. Both of these defensive statements seem to make sense, but they lack any evidence on their own. The accused must convince a panel in their favor. They need to stand firm and build compelling reasons and support that the accuser was intoxicated, not incapacitated. The simple claim that the accuser initiated contact can be completely disregarded if the campus panel believes they were incapacitated. Relying on saying that you were incapacitated can lead to being in violation of disciplinary codes. It can even be considered retaliation.
Manchester & Associates Defense
Whether or not alcohol was involved, if you have been accused of sexual assault on a college campus, Contact Manchester & Associates today for help.