In Ireland, consent is a fundamental principle that underpins the laws around sexual offences. If you engage in sexual activity in the absence of obtaining appropriate consent from the other person, you will have committed a criminal offence. It is critical that anyone suspected of sexual offences understands the laws around consent to ensure that their actions do not result in criminal charges.
If you have been charged with a sexual offence it is essential that you are represented by a Solicitor that has specialist knowledge and expertise in defending accused persons charged with sexual offences. If you need to speak to a solicitor, immediately call Daniel Kreith, Solicitor on (086) 076 2191 (24/7 contact number).
Consent as set out in Legislation
The law around consent in Ireland is set out in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017. The Act defines consent as a freely given, informed, and enthusiastic agreement by a person to engage in sexual activity. It states that consent must be given by a person who is capable of giving it, and that it must be ongoing throughout the sexual activity.
The Act also sets out a number of circumstances where consent is not given, even if the person does not actively resist or say no. These include situations where the person is asleep or unconscious, where they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, where they have a mental or physical disability that prevents them from giving consent, or where they are coerced or threatened into giving consent.
It is essential to note that the absence of physical resistance or the presence of silence does not mean that consent was given. In any sexual activity, it is the responsibility of the person initiating the sexual activity to ensure that they have received explicit consent. Any sexual activity without explicit consent can result in criminal charges.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 also introduced new offences that focus on the issue of consent. These include offences relating to sexual activity with a person under the age of 15, sexual activity with a person who is in a position of dependency, and sexual activity where the person is incapable of giving consent.
Consent under Case Law
In addition to the legislation, there have been several landmark cases in Irish courts that have helped to clarify the laws around consent. In the case of DPP v O’Rourke, the Supreme Court clarified that the absence of physical resistance or vocal objection did not mean that consent was given. The Court stated that the key issue was whether the accused believed that the victim was consenting.
In another case, DPP v ZC, the Court of Appeal stated that the absence of an explicit verbal refusal did not mean that consent was given. The Court held that the accused must have a reasonable belief that the person is consenting and that this belief must be based on more than mere silence or passivity.
It is critical that anyone suspected of sexual offences understands the laws around consent in Ireland. Consent must be freely given, informed, and enthusiastic, and it must be ongoing throughout any sexual activity. The absence of physical resistance or the presence of silence does not mean that consent was given. Anyone who engages in sexual activity without explicit consent can face criminal charges. It is important to seek legal advice if you have been accused of a sexual offence.