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North Carolina’s Sexual Assault Laws Change, Opening The Door for Prosecutors


In November, North Carolina’s sexual assault laws originally providing that an individual could not legally withdraw their consent for sex once that they had already consented and started to engage in the act were changed by the state legislature. Known for many years as the “right to finish” law, prior to the change, the law was responsible for a number of individuals having their charges reduced, never being charged and/or being acquitted because the courts recognized the defendant’s rights once a sexual act commenced. For example, one man’s secondary rape charge was reduced to misdemeanor assault because of the law, and another man was not prosecuted at all because the woman who accused him of non-consensual violence consented to being with him in the first place and continued to date him.

This also included individuals who became violent during sex, as well as those who allegedly ignored withdrawal of consent during the act. According to statistics, in 33 of the state’s counties, there has not been a rape conviction in the last four years as a result of the previous law.

Other Sexual Assault-Related Laws Changed

Related sexual assault laws that were also changed at the same time included legislation that:

  • Reversed the law making it legal to have sex with someone who was incapacitated if they were “responsible for their own state of incapacitation”
  • Increased the statute of limitations for child sexual assault victims to sue their assailants
  • Mandated that anyone over the age of 18 to report knowledge of a sex crime committed against a juvenile
  • Makes it mandatory for school personnel to be trained on child sex abuse and trafficking
  • Bans any online conduct by high-risk sex offenders if it endangers children
  • Prohibits attempting to drug someone’s food or drink (previously, it has not been a crime in North Carolina to drug someone’s drink if another crime does not accompany the act)

If You Have Any Questions, Contact Our North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys

Prosecutors have already heralded the changes, noting that they will allow them to more aggressively go after people who engaged in “non-consensual activity.” However, Gov. Roy Cooper has indicated that he plans to study the law before deciding whether to officially sign it into effect.

When law that has been on the books for a significant amount of time suddenly changes, there can be a period of confusion when it comes to behavior that suddenly results in arrest and prosecution. If you have been accused of sexual assault here, contact our experienced North Carolina criminal attorneys at the Hauter Law Firm, PC today to find out how we can inform you of your rights and provide an aggressive legal defense.



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