Woman being sexually harassed at workplace

Is it Sexual Assault if They Didn’t Say “No?” 

Wolfe & Mote Law Group, LLC Nov. 11, 2022

Just because someone does not say “no” is not an indicator that they mean “yes.” Consent is a complex issue in sexual assault cases. The criminal defense attorneys at Wolfe & Mote Law Group, LLC can help you protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome if you face sexual assault charges. From their office located in Columbus, Ohio, the team of results-driven and experienced attorneys proudly serves clients throughout the state, including Westerville, Dublin, Hilliard, Gahanna, and surrounding counties.  

Is It Sexual Assault if They Didn’t Say No?  

Before you get an answer to that question, you need to understand what counts as sexual assault and what consent is. The term sexual assault describes any form of sexual behavior, contact, or activity that occurs without consent from all parties involved or affected by the behavior, contact, or activity. Common forms of sexual assault include: 

  • Rape 

  • Unwanted sexual touching 

  • Forced sexual acts, including penetration or oral sex 

As a rule of thumb, sexual activity is considered consensual when all parties involved say “yes” and agree to what they expect to happen. However, consent can be withdrawn at any time, even in the middle of the sexual activity. In fact, the withdrawal of consent does not necessarily need to be verbal (saying “no”) for sexual activity to become non-consensual. If the other person does not stop what they are doing after consent was withdrawn, their conduct may constitute sexual assault.  

So, is it sexual assault if they didn’t say no? Consent means more than just hearing the words “yes” or “no.” Some people do not say “no” because they may feel that doing so could put them at risk of physical harm (e.g., if the person assaulting the victim has a weapon or knife). In other words, not saying “no” does not necessarily mean that a person agrees to sexual activity.  

That is why fighting back against sexual assault charges is so difficult, even if you believe that the sexual activity was consensual because the alleged victim did not say “no.” If you are facing sexual assault charges, reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately.  

Ohio Laws About Defining Consent  

While Ohio law does not provide its own definition of “consent” in the context of sexual activity, consent depends on a number of individual circumstances, as discussed above. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), lack of consent can be established by arguing that submission to sexual activity occurred as a result of fear. In addition, an individual is not capable of giving consent if they are mentally incapacitated, physically helpless (unconscious), or have not reached the age of majority.  

What to Do If You’ve Been Accused of Sexual Assault  

Being accused of sexual assault can have life-long consequences, especially if the accusations lead to a criminal conviction. For this reason, you need to take the following steps when facing accusations of sexual assault: 

  1. Contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Sexual assault is a serious charge that could severely impact your reputation and future, not to mention that you may end up behind bars. That is why you should not face it alone. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charges before it is too late.  

  1. Do not speak with the police. Politely refuse to provide any statements to the police before you have a chance to talk to your attorney.  

  1. Write down everything you remember. Even the tiniest details in your story can make a huge difference, including what the alleged victim said or did, whether or not alcohol or drugs was involved, and other details. Get your account of the events in order.  

  1. Collect evidence. The strength of your defense depends on the supporting evidence in your case. You need to collect as much evidence as you possibly can to prove your innocence, including witness statements, surveillance camera footage, photographs, text messages, etc.  

Law enforcement and courts take accusations of sexual assault very seriously. If you think you can easily prove that you had the alleged victim’s consent to engage in sexual activity simply because they did not say “No,” think again. Do not attempt to deal with the charges on your own. Contact a reliable and skilled defense attorney to help you build a strong case.  

Reliable & Experienced Defense Attorneys 

Consent is not a black-and-white issue, which is why so many people often face sexual assault allegations simply because they misinterpreted their partner’s verbal or non-verbal cues. Just because you did not hear the word “no” does not necessarily mean that sexual activity was consensual. If you are facing sexual assault charges, get immediate legal assistance from the experienced attorneys at Wolfe & Mote Law Group, LLC.