When “Yes” is not Consent in Criminal Sexual Conduct Cases

Everyone knows non-consensual sex is against the law.  If either party indicates they don’t want to have sex, the other party must respect that, or face potential criminal charges.  However, there are times, under Pennsylvania law, where even when someone says “yes” to sexual acts, the law does not recognize subsequent sexual conduct as consensual.

When investigating criminal sexual conduct claims, police often want to speak with a suspect while investigating the case.  It is important that you not speak to police if you are being investigated for a crime – especially if you are not guilty.  Instead, you need an attorney well versed in criminal law.

Mental Disability

A mental disability may renders someone incapable of consenting to sexual conduct.  In other words, under the law, even if the person says the word, “yes,” their mental disability is such they aren’t considered capable of making such an adult decision.


Criminal Sexual Conduct CasesThe age of the parties is relevant.  Under no circumstances is someone less than 13 years of age capable of consenting to sexual conduct.  Consequently, if a 12 year old, for example, agrees to engage in sex, this agreement is not a defense to charges of criminal sexual conduct.  Similarly, in most circumstances a person less than the age of 16 is not able to consent to sexual conduct.  There are some exceptions to the rules regarding those between the ages of 13 and less than 16, such as if the parties are legally married.

Sports Officials

People ho supervise children in a sports program are prohibited from engaging in sexual conduct with those under the age of 18 who are participating in the program.  This includes, but is not limited to the following sports officials:

  • Coaches;
  • Assistant coaches;
  • Athletic trainers;
  • Team attendants;
  • Game managers;
  • Instructors;
  • Umpires; as well as
  • Referees.

These rules cover both private, for profit associations, as well as non profit associations.

Employees and Volunteers at Schools

Employees and volunteers at schools, as well as other people who have direct contact with students, such as independent contractors, may not engage in sexual contact with students at the school.  Pennsylvania provides a list of people covered by this law:

  • Teachers;
  • Supervisors;
  • Supervising principals;
  • Principals;
  • Assistant principals;
  • Vice principals;
  • Directors of vocational education;
  • Dental hygienists;
  • Visiting teachers;
  • Home visitors;
  • School visitors;
  • ‘school counselors;
  • Child nutrition program specialists;
  • School librarians;
  • School secretaries;
  • Nurses;
  • Substitute teachers;
  • Janitors;
  • Cafeteria workers;
  • Bus drivers;
  • Teachers’ aides; as well as
  • Any other employee who has direct contact with school students.

Non-employees, including coaches, trainers, and independent contractors are also prohibited from having sexual contact with students.

If You are Charged with a Sex Crime

If you are charged with a sex crime, you probably already know there are serious criminal consequences if convicted.  However, you may be surprised to learn there are also collateral consequences.  Depending on the seriousness of the charges, you may find difficulty renting an apartment, finding a job, or applying for student loans.  An experienced criminal defense attorney can help.  Contact the Law Office of Steven O’Meara at (610) 565-9200.  There is no fee to discuss your case for an initial consultation.