Consent (as a term of jurisprudence) is a possible justification against civil or criminal liability. Defendants who use this defense are arguing that they should not be held liable for an crime, since the actions in question were taken with the "victim's" consent and permission. For example, if one signs a document stating that one is aware of the hazards of paintball, and that individual is then injured playing the game; it is possible that the person who shot said individual cannot be held civilly liable. Consent has also been used as a defense in cases involving accidental deaths, which occurred during sexual bondage. Time (May 23, 1988) referred to this latter example, as the "rough-sex defense".
In general, consent is not a defense against criminal liability. A defendant can argue that because of consent, there was no crime (for example arguing that the use of an automobile was not theft). However, once a crime has been established consent is generally not a defense. For example, if a person intentionally puts someone's eye out, the fact that the victim has consented to the activity is generally irrelevant. The major exception to this is the crime of rape or sexual assault.
In most countries, people must give informed consent before the majority of medical operations are performed and doctors may be sued for assault or battery for not giving their patients a full awareness of the risks associated with such things as medical trials of new medications and operations.
The question of whether informed consent needs to be formally given before sexual intercourse or other sexual activity, and whether this consent can be withdrawn at any time during the act, is an issue which is currently being discussed in the United States in regard to rape and sexual assault legislation.
While children may be able to give consent, a more complex quesion applies in terms of informed consent: whether children are developmentally and otherwise able to give informed consent, in particular to an adult, bearing in mind power relationships, maturity, experience and mental development.
Completeness of consent is gauged not so much by the preliminaries of transactions as by their ratification, which is the psychological development of incipient consent, and gives consistency to legal transactions.
This consent must include the material object of the matrimonial contract, which material object is the mutual right of one party to the body of the other, a right that carries with it every prerogative vested therein by the laws of nature.
In general, this consent is necessary in such matters as usually involve a serious obligation or the possibility of a notable damage, or in matters which simultaneously pertain to bishops and their chapters.
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