Victims with Mental Disabilities Under Georgia Law
Victims with Mental Disabilities Defense Lawyer in Atlanta & Alpharetta, Georgia
Tom Ford commits his 20 years of experience and vast resources to defending the rights of Georgia criminal defendants. His Atlanta-based firm handles serious sex crime cases in the state and federal courts of Georgia.
The backbone of the U.S. criminal justice system is the principle that all people are innocent until proven guilty. Under the law, the prosecutor must prove each element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Georgia criminal defense lawyer Tom Ford whittles away at the prosecution’s case, including allegations of the victim’s consent or, alternatively, incapacity to give consent.
What is a Mental Disability?
Mental and intellectual incapacity may be temporary or permanent and encompass numerous causes and manifestations. Causes of mental incapacity might include:
- Developmental disability
- Low IQ
- Traumatic brain damage (TBI)
- Illness that affects the brain
- Mental illness
- Psychological disorder
- Drug or alcohol impairment
In order to be considered a mental disability that affects a person’s ability to give consent, the condition must impair cognition, judgment, awareness or other mental capacities that allow a person to make rational decisions. A person who made a reckless, irrational, regrettable or self-destructive decision would not necessarily be characterized as unable to give consent for purposes of the sex crimes codes.
How Does a Victim’s Mental Capacity Affect Sex Crime Defense
Consent is typically an affirmative defense in sexual assault, sexual battery and rape allegations. If the victim agreed to have sex, the defendant is not criminally liable for engaging in sexual relations in most cases.
However, exceptions to the consent rule impose liability on the defendant even if the victim consented to the sexual conduct. These exceptions include statutory rape when the victim is deemed too young to give consent and mental incapacity cases in which a mental condition renders the victim unable to give consent.
Georgia recognizes the effects that a victim’s mental and intellectual capabilities have on the ability to consent to a sexual relationship. Whereas the other party’s consent ordinarily disproves sex crime charges, once the victim’s lack of mental capacity is proven, consent is no longer a defense.
Disproving Mental Disability
The prosecution must either prove that the alleged victim did not give consent or was not able to legally give consent. If the victim’s mental state becomes an issue, the prosecution must prove this element in addition to the other elements of the sexual assault or battery.
Evidence presented to the court regarding mental capacity might include:
- Psychological tests and analysis
- Medical diagnostic tests results, including brain imaging
- Medical history of mental illness or injuries
- Pharmaceutical regimen
- Testimony of family and medical professionals
- IQ tests
The defense may hire its own experts and run its own tests to prove that the alleged victim was legally able to give consent and did so at the time of the sexual encounter.
Learn More About Consent and Impact of the Victim’s Mental Disability
The Ford Law Firm is a boutique Atlantic-based criminal defense practice with the experience handling complex mental capacity matters in sexual assault charges. To learn more about the role of consent and the victim’s mental state in your case, call Georgia mentally incapacitated victim attorney Tom Ford at 404-835-3950 to schedule a consultation.