Oklahoma criminal courts must instruct the jury on the definition of consent in any crime involving any type of sexual contact or behavior where “consent” is an element of the crime or defense raised by the accused. HB 1127 modified 21 O.S. § 112. It went into effect November 1, 2017.
“Sexual assault” is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the recipient including, but not limited to, forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, child sexual abuse, incest, fondling, and all attempts to complete any of the aforementioned acts.
“Consent” is the affirmative, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement to engage in a specific sexual activity during a sexual encounter that can be revoked at any time.
Consent cannot be given by an individual who is:
- asleep or is mentally or physically incapacitated either through the effect of drugs or alcohol or for any other reason or
- is under duress, threat, coercion or force.
Consent cannot be inferred under circumstances in which consent is not clear including, but not limited to:
- The absence of an individual saying “no” or “stop” or
- The existence of a prior or current relationship or sexual activity.
This change will affect many people charged with sex crimes and give a uniform definition of consent. The definition now used has only been in effect by statute since 2016. This law will likely result in less appeals based on the wording of “consent” in the jury instructions.