Consent in College Park Title IX Cases
Title IX cases in College Park stem from allegations of sex discrimination usually involving some form of sexual misconduct. In some environments, sexual harassment provides grounds for complaint. However, in a university setting, Title IX cases often involve sexual conduct that is alleged to be non-consensual.
For that reason, consent in College Park Title IX cases is often a critical issue. Consent may carry different meanings in different settings. Because the term is described thoroughly in the University of Maryland Sexual Misconduct Policy & Procedures guide, that definition provides a good focal point, though it is also helpful to consider the definition as it is used in the law. An experienced attorney could provide more clarification for a particular case.
Consent Starts with Capacity
Not everyone has the capacity to legally consent to something, whether it is sexual conduct or other matters. Before someone can give legal consent, they must be qualified to do so. In some cases, they must be a sufficient age.
In all cases, a person must have the ability to exercise freedom of choice in order consent to something. Coerced agreement will not be treated as consent in College Park Title IX cases. Consenting individuals must also have the capacity to exercise reasonable judgment. A person impaired by alcohol, drugs, sleep, a medical condition, or other factors very likely will not have the requisite capacity.
In fact, the College Park sexual misconduct policy guide specifically points out that it violates the school’s Title IX policy to “engage in sexual activity with someone you know, or should know, is Incapacitated.”
The guide explains that a person is incapacitated when their ability to make decisions is so impaired that they do not fully understand the information about their sexual activity or that sexual contact is occurring.
What Actually Constitutes Consent
Consent is not specifically defined in Maryland criminal statutes relating to sexual misconduct, although lack of consent is a key element in of many crimes. The Sexual Misconduct Policy guide used in College Park defines consent in College Park Title IX cases as “a knowing, voluntary, and affirmatively communicated willingness to participate in a particular sexual activity or behavior.”
A person may express consent nonverbally, but the actions must establish an agreement to engage in a specific activity that is understood by both parties.
The person seeking to engage in sexual activity maintains responsibility for obtaining consent. As part of that responsibility, that person must assess whether the other person is capable of giving legal consent.
What Consent is Not
Misunderstandings abound when it comes to consent in College Park Title IX cases. One of the biggest inaccuracies involves silence or failure to protect an action. While someone may give consent through nonverbal means, mere silence or lack of protest is not enough without some affirmative action to demonstrate consent.
Another common misconception involves continuance or withdrawal of consent. Once a party has consented to engage in an activity, they have the right to retract that consent at any time. Moreover, if they consent to one activity, that consent does not necessarily carry over to a related activity. Similarly, consent to activity earlier in a relationship does not imply consent to future sexual conduct.
Get More Information About Consent in College Park Title IX Cases
If the concept of consent seems less than crystal clear, that is because the issue has long been open to debate. What one person reasonably believes to constitute consent may not be as obvious to another.
Consent in College Park Title IX cases frequently provides grounds for contention. Evidence that may be used to demonstrate consent or lack thereof may be particularly valuable in a Title IX case. For assistance with the collection of evidence concerning consent or with other aspects of a Title IX defense, it may be helpful to consult an attorney with experience handling Title IX cases.