Consent means an informed, affirmative, conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.
Consent must be voluntary, and given without coercion, force, threats, or intimidation. Consent requires positive cooperation in a particular sexual act, or expression of intent to engage in that sexual act through the exercise of free will.
Consent can be withdrawn or revoked. Consent to one form of sexual activity (or one sexual act) does not constitute consent to other forms of sexual activity (or other sexual acts). Consent to sexual activity given on one occasion does not constitute consent to sexual activity on another occasion. The fact that two people are or were in a dating or sexual relationship does not constitute consent to engage in sexual activity. There must always be mutual and affirmative consent to engage in sexual activity. Consent to a sexual act may be withdrawn or revoked at any time, including after penetration. The victim’s request for the perpetrator to use a condom or birth control does not, in and of itself, constitute consent. Once consent is withdrawn or revoked, the sexual activity must stop immediately.
Consent cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated. For example, a person cannot give consent if s/he is unconscious or coming in and out of consciousness. A person is incapacitated if s/he lacks the physical and/or mental ability to make informed, rational judgments. Examples of incapacitation include unconsciousness, sleep, and blackouts. Whether an intoxicated person (as a result of using alcohol or other drugs) is incapacitated depends on the extent to which the alcohol or other drugs impact the person’s decision-making capacity, awareness of consequences, and ability to make fully informed judgments. A person with a physical or mental disability may also lack the capacity to give consent.
Being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol does not diminish a person’s responsibility to obtain consent from the other party before engaging in sexual activity. Factors to be considered include whether the person knew, or whether a reasonable person in the accused’s position should have known, that the victim did not give, or revoked, consent; was incapacitated; or was otherwise incapable of giving consent.
In Texas, sexual intercourse with a minor is never consensual when the victim is under 17 years old, because the victim is considered incapable of giving legal consent due to age.