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How is 'consent' defined by Florida law?

Posted at 10:35 PM, Mar 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-24 12:35:43-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Over the past two weeks, a law enforcement member of the Tallahassee Police Department and Leon County Sheriff's Office have been accused of sexual assault.

In both cases, the victim complied with what the offender wanted and then reported the assault after. However, the way Florida law defines consent can make getting justice more difficult for some victims.

Florida law defines consent as, "Intelligent, knowing and voluntary consent, and does not include coerced submission." Essentially, if you talk an unwilling person into saying "yes," that's not consent.

Former Tallahassee Police Officer Vincent Crump is accused of assaulting a woman during a traffic stop. Court documents say the victim believed Crump was in a position of control and authority over her. 

Former Leon County Deputy Jarrett Broughton is accused of forcing a woman to expose herself during a ride along.

Tallahassee attorney Mutaqee Akbar says proving coerced consent can be difficult in sexual battery cases.

"We can't get into a person's head and say [if] that person was scared or being influenced by that law enforcement's authority," said Akbar. "I think it does make it difficult for the state to prove a lot of times."

However, Akbar said the law works the other say too.

"It also puts people through [the] agony of getting charged with something serious just because somebody says that consent wasn't voluntary," said Akbar.

Consent also becomes an issue when drinking or drugs are involved. As spring break gets underway, Akbar has some advice: "If it's questionable, don't do it."

"You have to be in a situation where you know that that person is doing it because they want to be with you, instead of submitting to your authority," said Akbar. "It's a long road ahead if that person makes allegations against you the next day."

Crump is charged with three counts of sexual battery by a law enforcement officer.

Broughton is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.