2 MIN READ | Mental Health

Ellen Diamond

Alcohol and Rape Charges: How Things Can Get Complicated

Cite This
Ellen Diamond, (2021, August 13). Alcohol and Rape Charges: How Things Can Get Complicated. Psychreg on Mental Health. https://www.psychreg.org/alcohol-rape-charges/
Reading Time: 2 minutes

When you face any sort of sexual assault charge it would usually be a smart move to appoint a local sex crime attorney to help you navigate your way through the process and present the facts of the case in the best way.

When it comes to rape charges, there is no doubt that the presence of alcohol in the equation will complicate matters and the subject of intoxication does tend to blur the lines in terms of consent.

Here is an overview of how and why alcohol makes sexual assault cases more complex to resolve.

A question of consent

The key question that needs to be answered in a rape charge is whether the victim consented to sex. If the alleged victim had been drinking it raises the question of whether they were too intoxicated to be able to make an informed decision about consenting to sex.

The fundamental point that will have to be established and proved for a rape charge to be successful is whether the victim was actually too heavily intoxicated to be able to decide whether they wanted to have sex or not.

If the level of intoxication is at such a level to consider them too drunk to make an informed decision about consent that would be a problem for the accused. The issue in this scenario is about who decides whether someone is too drunk or not to be able to make that decision.

The default position in this sort of rape charge is the view that if a person is too intoxicated they are incapable of consenting to sex.

It is a fundamental question of agreeing to sex with a clear head. The major problem that the law has to grapple with is what exactly constitutes incapacity, and what is the benchmark?

Other evidence

In light of the fact that the question of how intoxicated a victim actually was in terms of being able to make an informed decision about having sex. It has already been demonstrated how it can be so hard to prove. Therefore, it often comes down to other evidence to support or deny the claim.

A good example of this would be when a victim has only a limited memory of the event or actually has no recollection whatsoever of having sex or agreeing to the act.

There may be CCTV evidence of certain points in the evening that could be crucial in determining the state of intoxication of the victim and the level of control that the accused is demonstrating.

If the footage shows that the victim is unable to walk properly and is being controlled or manipulated by the accused that could be considered as compelling evidence to help determine the level of intoxication.

Rape charges can be notoriously difficult to prove at the best of times and there is no doubt that the presence of alcohol further complicates the situation.

What is not in doubt, is that you should consider getting professional legal help if you are facing a charge of this magnitude. Especially when it can be so complicated to establish all the facts of the incident.


Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.


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