Rape accused must show ‘objectively reasonable’ belief of consent under new reforms – Meczyki Times

A person accused of rape will have to show they have an “objectively reasonable” belief that they have the consent of the victim to defend the law under new plans approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee will bring a memo to Cabinet on Wednesday morning that will seek to amend laws around consent, knowledge and belief in rape cases.

Under the plans, the new legislation would change the current situation where a person is not guilty of rape if they honestly believe they had the victim’s consent.

The accused’s defense that the man believed the woman was consenting would instead have to be objectively reasonable. Effectively this would mean that the jury would take into account the steps the accused took to determine whether the woman was consenting. There will also be a new provision in the legislation that suicidal intoxication will not be a defense to a rape charge so that the accused can understand whether he or she consented.

Cabinet is expected to approve the publication of the general scheme of the Bill, and plans to now draft a full Bill.

Under current law, the accused’s own personally honest but mistaken belief that the victim was consenting is a defense to rape.

The current definition of rape is that the man knows that the woman is not consenting, or is careless that she is consenting. The new bill would amend the mistake or mental element of the crime of rape — that is, what is in the mind of the accused — and add that an accused person commits rape if, at the time of the sexual encounter, he was “not reasonably would. Believe” that the woman was giving consent.

Under the proposed new rules, where the question of reasonable belief arises in a rape case, the jury must consider the personal capacity of the accused, that is, the physical, mental or intellectual disability of the accused; Any mental illness as well as age and maturity.

In 2019, the Law Reform Commission recommended that men should no longer be able to use the claim that they “honestly believe” that a woman consented to sex as a defense in a rape case. was given The report was commissioned by Attorney-General Seamus Woolf, after the Supreme Court confirmed in 2016 that “an honest, though unreasonable, mistake that the woman was consenting to is a defense to rape”.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Center has previously said that the “honest belief” defense for rape accusers is “not acceptable” and puts individual rape victims and society as a whole at risk.

The centre’s chief executive, Nolene Blackwell, said: “It should not be the case that a man should go ‘out of court’ with his honest but unreasonable belief in a case where the woman did not consent to sex”.

Plans to revise consent laws will be included in a bill that would also provide anonymity for victims and accused in all sex crime cases, not just rape cases.

Victim anonymity will be guaranteed in all trials for sex crimes and will be extended to additional crimes that target particularly vulnerable victims, including those with mental illness or mental or intellectual disabilities. The facility of anonymity of the accused will also be provided if they are not found guilty of the crime. If a suspect is convicted of a sex crime, he or she may be identified unless doing so would identify the victim.

The public will be kept out of courtrooms for sex crime trials, but this will not affect the media’s ability to report verdicts and sentencing. The definitions of “broadcast” and “publication” will be updated to ensure that social media is covered to protect the victim’s identity. The victim’s right to legal representation if there is a request to be questioned about her prior sexual experience will be expanded to include trials for sexual assault offenses and not just rape offenses as at present. Is.