Alcohol causes people to do stupid things. This is a well-known and accepted fact in the world. Drink too much alcohol, and you'll find yourself behaving differently. Whether you're dancing on tabletops after too much tequila, laughing hysterically and uncontrollably after one too many glasses of wine, or sleeping in the corner after a few too many beers, alcohol is powerful. But, until recently, it was never considered to be a weapon. Unfortunately, alcohol is now being considered a weapon in Sexual Assault and Unlawful Sexual Contact cases in El Paso, Denver, and Adams County, and across Colorado. There are many potential problems with this, but we're going to focus on one key distinction: Alcohol is consumed voluntarily, while true weapons take away control from victims.
Alcohol and the Loss of Judgment
Alcohol is a contributing factor in many alleged Sexual Assaults and rapes. This shouldn't surprise us, because alcohol impairs judgment. When two people drink large amounts of liquor, they are unable to make good decisions. Often, our judgment is the first to go out the window, and that translates into impulsive sexual behavior. People lose their inhibitions when they are drunk and make unwanted sexual advances. But, in Sexual Assault cases, the defendant's level of impairment is never taken into consideration. Instead, District Attorneys and judges only look at how much alcohol the alleged victim consumed. And, they assume the defendant purposefully got the alleged victim drunk with the intent of Sexual Assault.
Alcohol Defined as a Weapon in Sex Crime Cases?
In an article I read recently, a Boulder County District Attorney says that alcohol plays such an enormous role in sexual assault and Unlawful Sexual Contact cases, it is now considered a “weapon.” The article references a recent case where a young man was accused of Sexually Assaulting a woman after a night of “party-hopping.” The young woman was allegedly drunk when he sexually assaulted her. Now, while we don't believe that a drunk person deserves to be victimized, we think referring to alcohol “as a weapon” is a far stretch. Police and District Attorneys need to remember that women voluntarily ingest alcohol and they normally choose who to drink with. Another important consideration is that in Sexual Assault cases, the man is usually just as drunk as the woman.
The Role of Alcohol in Unlawful Sexual Contact and Sexual Assault Cases
In the article, a Colorado Springs police officer says than many of the Sex Assault cases investigated by his detectives involve victims who were inebriated. According to the law in Colorado, a person can be too drunk to consent to sex. Sexual Assault will be charged if a person has sex with someone who:
…is incapable of appraising the nature of” of their own conduct. Or, when they are “physically helpless” and have “not consented.
Obviously, these definitions are vague. But, they are often referenced when alcohol is involved in a sex assault case. Even if a woman says “yes” to sex, if she regrets her decision, she can say she was “too drunk” for the “yes” to be real.
Why Alcohol isn't a Weapon
Other weapons, such as guns and knives, aren't used willingly by the victim, unlike alcohol. Why should the latter be defined as a weapon?
In the article, a woman (who is co-developer of a new program to prevent sex assault in the Air Force) says that “for the same reason that a robber chooses a drunk victim (over a sober victim), a rapist will also choose a drunk victim.” It's easy to simply agree with her and the Boulder DA and say that alcohol is a weapon. But, this logic is flawed. A rapist may give alcohol to his intended victim. He may offer it. But, it is highly unusual for him to force it. In no sex assault cases I have heard about were victims subdued by a person force-feeding them alcohol. No – the alcohol was consumed willingly. Guns and knives are considered to be weapons in criminal cases. None of these things are used willingly by victims. Instead, they are forced upon victims in order to force them into something they don't want. Alcohol is much different, because it is consumed willingly by the victim. In the case I referenced above, with the young man accused of Sexual Assault – the alleged victim was “party-hopping” willingly. The defendant didn't force her to attend the parties by using a handgun. She was there willingly, and she drank willingly. I'm not saying that alcohol doesn't play a role in Sex Assaults. I'm simply disagreeing with the definition of alcohol as a weapon. When definitions become vague and broad, innocent people go to prison.
Why You Need a Lawyer for Sex Assaults Involving Alcohol or Drugs
“When words lose their meaning, people lose their lives.”
If you or a loved one has been charged with Sexual Assault after a night of drinking or partying, don't hesitate to contact one of our aggressive sex crimes defense lawyers. Sexual Assault cases are very one-sided. With the presence of Victims' Advocates and the District Attorney, it can be difficult for your voice to be heard in the courtroom. These cases have always been difficult to defend, but with pressure from special interest and victim's rights groups, justice can be hard-fought. But, here at the O'Malley Law Office, we understand how these cases work and know what the judge or jury is looking for. We know that when “words lose their meaning, people lose their lives,” so we work hard to illustrate how alcohol isn't a “weapon,” and provide evidence to prove your innocence. Here at the O'Malley Law Office, we fight to win.Request a Free Consultation