What Are the Defenses to Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is a serious problem, and statistics show that many sexual assaults go unreported. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), someone in the United States is the victim of sexual assault once every 92 seconds. Each year, there are 321,500 victims of sexual assault in the U.S.

There’s no question that sexual assault is a heinous crime, and that victims deserve every protection available. 

At the same time, people who are falsely accused of sexual assault are also deserving of protection and equal justice under the law. Because sexual assault is such a horrific crime, even a mere accusation can cause long-term and possibly permanent damage to a person’s career, reputation, and relationships. People have even spent time in prison for sexual assaults they didn’t commit.  

If you’ve been wrongly accused of sexual assault, it’s important to talk about your case with a knowledgeable Texas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. These can be complicated and sensitive cases. An experienced lawyer can walk you through the various potential defenses that may be available to you. 

Defenses When You’ve Been Wrongly Accused of Sexual Assault

There are numerous potential defenses to a sexual assault charge. In some cases, the defendant may have actually engaged in a sexual act with the accuser, but the defendant may be able to show that the conduct was consensual on the part of both parties. This makes sexual assault somewhat different from other types of criminal cases. 


As with other criminal accusations, innocence is a defense to sexual assault. If the defendant never had any kind of sexual contact with the accuser, the defendant can produce evidence that backs up their assertion.

For example, maybe they can show they were in another location at the time the alleged assault is supposed to have taken place. The defendant may even be able to produce witnesses who can testify that the defendant was in their presence at the time of the alleged assault. These witnesses are sometimes called “alibis.”

The defendant may also be able to show that the victim has mistaken the accused for someone else. Unfortunately, the human memory is known to be quite fallible. Furthermore, when people are stressed or subject to a violent attack, they may not always get a clear look at their assailant.

There have been several high-profile cases in which an individual was accused or even convicted of a sexual assault they didn’t commit. In 2016, a man from the Netherlands was freed after serving 10 years in a Spanish prison for a sexual assault he didn’t carry out. After new DNA evidence showed a British man already serving time for a separate offense committed the crime, the Spanish Supreme Court overturned his conviction. 

These types of cases illustrate just how devastating a case of mistaken identity can be. They also show why everyone who is accused of a crime deserves full due process under the guarantees contained in the Constitution.  


In other cases, the defendant may admit that they had some kind of sexual contact with the accuser, but that the accuser consented to the contact at the time. For sexual conduct to rise to the level of assault, the accuser must have either never given consent or withdrawn consent. 

It’s important to note that proving consent can be a challenge in a criminal case. Sexual assault cases can be incredibly sensitive and emotionally charged. It takes an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer to approach the consent defense in the right way, and in a way that is respectful to everyone involved. 

Additionally, in some cases, an alleged sexual assault victim may be legally incapable of giving consent. For example, in the cases of minors or individuals who lack the requisite mental capacity to agree to sexual activity, such individuals can’t give consent as a matter of law.

Talk to a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Case

If you have been falsely accused of a sexual assault, there may be several possible defenses available to you in your case. Don’t hesitate to speak to a top Texas criminal defense lawyer about your options.  Call attorney John Helms in Dallas today to discuss your case and protect your future. 

Dallas Attorney John Helms

(T): 214-666-8010