What is consent in Texas?

If you are a Texas resident, it is important to know your state’s sexual assault laws surrounding consent. Sex acts may become rape when consent is lacking, and the definition is not always intuitive. The following are several situations that affect whether someone has consented to a sexual act.

Many consent laws in Texas are centered on a person’s awareness of what he or she is doing. For instance, someone may be unable to consent if he or she is unknowingly given a substance affecting his or her ability to appraise the situation, has a mental disease diminishing the ability to assess the circumstances, is unconscious, or is otherwise unaware the sexual assault is happening to him or her.

Another major element of consent involves control. A person is unable to freely consent if he or she is unable to resist because control is exerted over him or her. Control may take many forms under such laws, and there is some overlap. For instance, mental disease, unconsciousness, and substances not only affect a person’s awareness, but also his or her ability to resist. Likewise, if an actor controls another person by physical force or threats, the other person has not consented to the acts that follow.

Texas law also looks at the relationship between the actor and the other person in certain professional or religious settings. In such circumstances, analysis includes whether a person was coerced by exploitation of his or her emotional dependency on the actor. Examples of actors to whom this analysis applies are health and mental health care providers, clergyman, residential facility employees, and public servants.  

Understanding consent in Texas is an important part of knowing sexual assault law. The primary concerns are a person’s level of awareness, ability to resist, and whether there was an exploitive professional or religious relationship. These concepts are key to understanding the question of consent.

This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended as legal advice.