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Is Sexual Assault Possible in a Marriage?

Husband saying sorry to wife: sexual assault

When most people picture an instance of sexual assault, they typically think of a stranger taking advantage of someone they just met that night. However, sexual assault isn’t always between strangers, as it can happen in committed relationships. With that being said, is sexual assault possible in a marital relationship?

Ohio Definition of Consent

On Ohio’s website of rules and regulations, the state defines consent as, “words or overt acts indicating a freely given agreement to the sexual conduct at issue by a competent person.”

Important aspects of this definition include the following:

  • Consent is physically overt or verbally given;
  • Consent is freely given, not coerced or otherwise forced;
  • Consent applies to a specific sexual act, not all sexual acts;
  • Consent is given by a competent person.

If a sexual act does not have every aspect of consent as mentioned above, then the act is not consensual.

Does a Marital Relationship Forgo the Need for Consent?

In short, the answer is no. A marital relationship does not supersede the need for consent from both parties before participating in a sexual act. This is due to the fact that a marital relationship does not bind spouses sexually, only legally.

In other words, a couple can get legally married and remain legally married without ever having a sexual encounter.

Sex is not a requirement of a marital relationship, which means a marital relationship follows the same rules of consent.

Therefore, consent in a marital relationship is:

  • physically overt or verbally given;
  • freely given, not coerced or otherwise forced;
  • applicable to a specific sexual act, not all sexual acts;
  • given by a competent person.

Potential Consent Concerns for Spouses

While the law is clear about the definition of sexual consent, the implications of consent in a marital relationship muddy the waters. Those in relationships build rapport with one another, and at some point, traditions become a regular part of the relationship. These traditions may include sexual routines, but what happens when one partner isn’t interested?

If a spouse is not interested in having sex, forcing sexual contact on him or her could result in a sexual assault charge. In fact, a spouse could face criminal charges for grabbing or spanking their spouse’s buttocks in an attempt to change a spouse’s mind about sex: that’s how dangerous consent is.

Another regular concern for a married couple in regards to consent is if one of the spouses is intoxicated. By law, consent is given by a competent person, but someone who is intoxicated may not technically be a competent person.

As a result, sex with a drunken spouse could result in criminal charges for the actor, and if both parties are drunk, then both parties could be charged for sexual assault. While the chances of this happening are slim, it’s still a possibility given the law.

Have You Been Charged with Sexual Assault?

As you can see, the circumstances that could result in sexual assault charges are not as far-fetched as many would have you believe. If you or a loved one has been accused of sexual assault, an experienced sex crimes attorney can help you fight for your case.

Patrick Mulligan & Associates is an award-winning law firm that gets results for its clients. Attorney Patrick Mulligan is a board-certified criminal law specialist, which means he has the knowledge and experience to defend your case.

Call (937) 685-7006 now for a free consultation concerning your sexual assault charges.