Sex Offense Lawyers: Is There a Legal Definition of “Too Drunk to Consent?”

Understanding consent is fundamental to making sure that all sexual activities are consensual and respectful. The legal boundaries surrounding this issue are complex and can have significant implications for those involved. The Combs Waterkotte defense attorneys are here to help.

One critical aspect of consent is recognizing when someone might be too intoxicated to provide it. If you are facing such allegations, call the experienced and talented sex offense lawyers at Combs Waterkotte as soon as possible at (314) 900-HELP or contact us online for a free, no-strings-attached consultation.

Is there such a thing as being too drunk to provide consent? Here, our expert attorneys will help explore the answer to that question.

Sex Offense Lawyers at Combs Waterkotte: Is There a Legal Definition of “Too Drunk to Consent?”

Engaging in sexual activity with someone who is too drunk or high to consent can lead to serious legal repercussions, including charges of sexual assault or rape. These charges can carry severe consequences, including lengthy imprisonment, hefty fines, and mandatory registration as a sex offender.

You need a skilled and tenacious defense attorney in your corner, particularly one as knowledgeable in the field as the sex offense lawyers at Combs Waterkotte. Our legal team has over 60 years of combined experience protecting the rights and futures of our clients in St. Louis and throughout Missouri. Give us a call now at (314) 900-HELP or reach out to us online.

Sex Offense Lawyers: Understanding Consent

Consent is clear and voluntary agreement to engage in specific sexual activity. For consent to be valid, it must be given freely, without coercion, force, threats, or intimidation. Under Missouri law for example – Revised Statute § 566.030 – individuals can’t give consent when:

  • They are incapable of making reasonable judgements because they are intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.
  • They are passed out from drinking too much.
  • They have been drugged.
  • They are unconscious for any other reason.

Sex Offense Lawyers: Intoxication & Consent

Determining whether someone is too drunk to consent involves their level of intoxication and how it affected their ability to understand and agree to the sexual activity. If you have been accused of a sex offense, contact the Combs Waterkotte legal team right away at (314) 900-HELP or reach out online to one of our sex offense lawyers where you can discuss the specifics of your case.

Some key factors include:

  • Coherence: Could the individual communicate clearly? It is important to note that consent can be non-verbal – nodding “yes,” pulling someone closer, and actively participating in sexual activity are all physical signs of consent. Were they able to understand and respond to questions? Were they aware of their surroundings?
  • Level of Intoxication: Was the individual visibly impaired? Were they stumbling while trying to stand or walk? Were they vomiting?
  • Memory: Does the individual remember the events leading up to, during, and after the sexual activity?

As the Combs Waterkotte sex offense lawyers can attest, things can get difficult in cases like this mainly due to the fact that there is no objective way to determine how drunk is too drunk. Without a precise legal standard for intoxication, these factors are usually assessed on a case-by-case basis. Courts will look at the totality of circumstances to determine if the individual was too drunk to consent.

Sex Offense Lawyers: Incapacitation & Consent

Incapacitation is a state where an individual is unable to make rational, informed decisions and give knowing consent due to mental or physical impairment. This can be because of a variety of factors, including unconsciousness, sleep, and, importantly, intoxication. While the law doesn’t provide a specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level that determines incapacitation, courts have considered whether the individual’s ability to make decisions was significantly impaired.

Signs of incapacitation include:

  • Inability to walk without assistance
  • Lack of awareness of circumstances or surroundings
  • Inability to dress/undress without assistance
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to communicate coherently>

Sex Offense Lawyers: Is There a Legal Definition of "Too Drunk to Consent?" | Combs Waterkotte


What Consent Sounds and Looks Like:

You know that you have consent when the other person has clearly said – or otherwise clearly indicated – yes, without being pressured, and has given you permission to do something. Here are some examples of consent:

  • The other individual is capable of making informed decisions, and isn’t intoxicated or incapacitated, or being coerced.
  • The absence of “no” doesn’t mean a “yes.” The same goes for “maybe,” silence, giving positive physical indicators, or not responding.
  • Respecting the other person when they say “no” or are unsure about anything.
  • There’s continuous communication every step of the way.
  • You and the other person are engaging in sexual activity enthusiastically, after agreeing to have sex.

You Don’t Have Consent If:

  • The individual is incapacitated by drugs or alcohol
  • The other person is sleeping or unconscious
  • You use threats or intimidation to coerce the individual into something
  • You use a position of authority or trust, like a teacher or employer
  • The individual changes their mind
  • You have consent for one sexual act, but not another one
  • You pressure them to say yes
  • You ignore their wishes or nonverbal cues to stop, like pushing away

Facing Sex Offense Charges? Contact the Expert Defense Attorneys at Combs Waterkotte Today

The legal definition of being “too drunk to consent” is not set by any parameters but rather by assessing the individual’s ability to make informed decisions. If you have been charged with a sex offense for not obtaining clear consent, Combs Waterkotte can help.

Call our sex offense lawyers immediately at (314) 900-HELP or contact us online for a no-obligation case review.