Mentally Incapacitated Victims in Georgia Sex Crime Cases
Mentally Incapacitated Defense Lawyer in Atlanta & Alpharetta, Georgia
The Ford Law Firm has 20 years of experience and critical resources to defend the rights of criminal defendants in Georgia’s judicial system. We regularly represent individuals who are accused of serious sex crime offenses that carry harsh penalties. Often these cases boil down to “she said/he said” with only gray area evidence to support the charge.
Consent issues are highly complex and often revolve around the question of whether the alleged victim was mentally incapacitated by drugs, alcohol or other causes. In addition to holding the prosecution to its duty of proof, the defense must often submit an affirmative defense as to the victim’s state at the time of the sexual conduct.
When is Consent Not a Defense?
Consent is a defense in most sex crime cases. If the other party consented to the sexual relationship, the prosecution cannot prove that essential element of the crime and the defendant must be acquitted or charges dropped.
However, Georgia law recognizes that some parties are not able to give consent, such as minors, people with mental disabilities and incapacitated individuals.
Incapacitation may be permanent, as is the case with a person with severe brain damage or developmental impairment, or may be temporary, as with a person who has had too much to drink or has taken drugs.
Why Incapacitation is a Challenging Issue
Some cases are less ambiguous than others, but the issue of capacity is almost always difficult to prove or disprove.
A person may appear to be fully functioning while on drugs and alcohol that cause temporary amnesia. The question is whether the person was able to give consent while under the influence of the substances and had the capacity to give consent at the time of the encounter.
The answer often centers on which party’s testimony the jurors believe and circumstantial evidence surrounding the incident. Others may testify as to how the victim appeared and acted during the moments before a private encounter. Those witnesses may themselves be placed under scrutiny regarding their ability to perceive and recollect the events if they were also impaired. Often, the only witnesses to the encounter are the accused and the accuser.
Proving and Disproving Capacity to Consent
To bring incapacity into the case, the prosecution must prove that the alleged victim is subject to an exception to the consent rules. Evidence might include:
- Toxicology test results regarding the blood alcohol level or drugs in the victim’s system
- Evidence as to the victim’s consumption of alcohol or drugs, including bar receipts and witness testimony
- The victim’s testimony about his or her mental state at the time of the sexual encounter
- Affirmative consent given by the accuser at the time of the incident
Learn More About Consent and Impact of the Victim’s Incapacity
The Ford Law Firm is a boutique Georgia criminal defense practice that handles complex issues regarding incapacity in sexual battery charges. Learn more about the role of consent and the victim’s mental state on your case outcome at a consultation with our Georgia mentally incapacitated victim law firm. Call 404-835-3950 to schedule an appointment.