Opinion

Minnesota Supreme Court Rules If You Drank, It Isn’t Rape

By Shania Pagan

Being in your early 20s for many means going out, partying, drinking, and enjoying the good years before they go by. Unfortunately for women, it just got a little harder to do that in Minnesota. The state recently overturned a guilty third degree criminal sexual conduct charge, claiming that if the victim willingly drank and got drunk without objection, it can’t be considered rape.

J.S was 20 years old on May 13, 2017 when she went out to a bar with her friend. She was turned away at the door for being underage. Sound familiar? It happens often, and if it’s happened to you or a friend, you know that there’s usually a plan B. For J.S and her friend, the plan B came when three men approached them and invited them to a party–a party that didn’t actually exist.

What happened next was clouded by the haze that comes with too much alcohol, and J.S remembered only being undressed by one of the men who invited her. Later when she reported the crime to police, and they spoke to her attacker; he claimed he didn’t even remember her.

What does being mentally incapacitated cover? By definition, it means not being able to make decisions even after given the information to do so. It’s when you’re given keys after a few drinks and told to drive a car. Maybe you can do it, but does that mean you should? Does that make it right? What if someone else in the car is even more drunk than you are? They can’t give you permission to drive.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a lack of judgment for consensual sex can only be considered if the intoxicated person became so by force. This means that unless someone gave you no choice but to consume a substance, according to their law, you agreed to everything that happened following.

The attacker was released from his charges nearly four years after the rape occurred. His defense attorney, William Walker, claimed that the interaction was undeniably consensual and was moved by the overturning of the case. Walker stated that he was “pinching himself,” because of how powerful it was to see his defendant go free. 

Forty states in this country do not have laws specifically prohibiting sex with an intoxicated person. Florida’s consent laws are almost exact to Minnesota’s, the only difference being the small addition of sex being considered nonconsensual if the intoxicated person is unaware that it is happening.

Consent is a crucial part of all sexual interactions. You need to ask before every single action; it’s arguably the most simple part. If the person is under the influence of any substance, there is no such thing as consent. Again, there is no such thing as consent with someone who is under the influence. 

Psychoactive drugs alter the mood, consciousness, and thoughts of those who are using them. Decisions are made differently, interactions become a blur, and sometimes it can be hard to even see what’s right in front of you. Are there any aspects of those symptoms, that make you believe someone under the influence is able minded? According to Minnesota law, if you chose intoxication, you also chose any repercussions that come with it. 

People don’t always have the best intentions, and people won’t always care if you make it home safe. Not everyone is your friend, even if after a couple drinks, it feels like they are. When going out, underage or not, don’t put your safety into the hands of someone else. If the worst were to happen, you might not even be able to depend on the law to help you.

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