By ERIN FUCHS
America’s young women have been admonished recently to avoid binge drinking, but there are also good reasons for men not to get hammered.
Here’s one of many reasons not to binge drink: A guy can get convicted of rape if he’s too drunk to realize a woman is saying no — even if he remembers nothing of the assault or thought the sex was consensual. (And yes, a woman could be convicted of rape in similar circumstances, though the cases are rare.)
“The law basically says that if you voluntarily got yourself so drunk that you had no idea what you were doing, we’re not going to excuse that,” Catholic University law professor Clifford Fishman told me.
That’s because rape is a general-intent crime, meaning prosecutors just have to prove a rapist was being negligent or reckless. Unlike specific-intent crimes, rape doesn't require prosecutors to prove a rapist specifically intended to rape somebody. (Other general-intent crimes are assault or reckless endangerment of a child; premeditated murder is a specific-intent crime.)
To be sure, a drunken guy who doesn't realize what he’s doing is more sympathetic than, say, a serial rapist. But that guy still needs to be punished for getting that drunk and violating somebody.
“You can imagine somebody drunkenly but honestly mixing up the cues, being too drunk to realize the other person is not consenting,” UVA Law professor Anne Coughlin told me, but, she added, “That person is dangerous.”