The issue of consent in sexual encounters has gotten a lot more traction in recent years, and it’s led to a greater awareness that both people need to consent to any sort of encounter for it to be legal. It’s important for both partners to be very open about exactly what they want and what they agree to, rather than assuming anything or relying on nonverbal signals.
But what if someone gives you consent and then, halfway through the sexual encounter, they tell you that they’re withdrawing their consent? Can they do this and could you face any sort of legal trouble as a result?
The encounter needs to stop
Whether or not you face legal charges depends on if you continue the encounter after consent is withdrawn or if you stop. Legally speaking, consent can always be withdrawn at any point. Either partner has the option to do this, and the other person has an obligation to respect it, even if they were previously given consent. Their partner has the right to change their mind, and ignoring this change is a violation of those rights.
This can lead to some complex situations. Maybe you believed that you had consent and you didn’t realize that they were trying to withdraw it. Maybe alcohol was involved and everyone’s memories of the sexual encounter are a bit blurry. Perhaps you don’t believe they ever withdrew their consent, but they are now saying that they did after the fact. The ramifications for something like this can be very serious, so it’s important to know about all of the legal options at your disposal.