What is Consent?


Consent is defined as informed, mutually understandable words and/or actions which indicate a willingness to participate in and/or allow a specific activity, freely and actively given by a person with the current mental capacity to make rational decisions. A person may be without such capacity due to the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs. Consent is not effective if it results from the use of physical force, threats, intimidation, or coercion.

A person always retains the right to revoke consent at any point during an activity. On this page, we will go over some of the finer details regarding consent, and how it is defined by both the University and Colorado State Law.

What Is Consent?

  • Consent is a voluntary mutual agreement. It's informed, sober, honest, clear, and involves the word "yes" from each person involved. That means there's discussion and clear communication

  • Consent should be freely given — it should never be coerced or forced, nor should it involve pressure, intimidation, or threats.
  • Consent should be mutually agreed upon with a clear understanding of what is being asked for and consented to.

  • Consent must never be assumed or implied, even if you're in a relationship. Being in a relationship does not mean you always have consent to have sex with your partner.

  • Consent may be withdrawn at any time, and when it is withdrawn all sexual activity must stop immediately.

  • Consent can't legally be given by a person who is intoxicated. If you're too drunk to make decisions and communicate with your partner, you're too drunk to consent.

What Is Not Consent?

Simply stated, sexual assault includes but is not limited to any physical act that is sexual in nature and performed without the consent of all parties. If one person does not want the sexual act to be happening, the other person is committing sexual assault.

It is not consent if your partner is:

  • Silent or not responding

  • Avoiding the question

  • Using uncertain statements such as, "I'm not sure if I'm ready," "I don’t know if I want to,” “I think I've had too much to drink,” or “I'm scared”

  • Having a change of mind after saying yes

  • Being pressured or coerced to saying yes

  • "Giving in"

Consent is also not:

  • Expanding what a response may mean (e.g. answering "Yes" to "Do you want to go back to my place?" is only giving consent to go back to your place)

  • Alcohol-/drug-affected responses

  • Entitlement through a committed relationship

  • Absence of a clear no — not saying no does not mean yes

  • If your partner says no, it does not ever really mean yes

Consent and Colorado State Law

The legal parameters of consent under the Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-1-505 (3) read as follows:

(3) Unless otherwise provided by this code or by the law defining the offense, assent does not constitute consent if:

(a) It is given by a person who is legally incompetent to authorize the conduct; or
(b) It is given by a person who, by reason of immaturity, mental disease, mental defect, or intoxication, is manifestly unable and is known or reasonably should be known by the defendant to be unable to make a reasonable judgment; or
(c) It is given by a person whose consent is sought to be prevented by the law defining the offense; or
(d) It is induced by force, duress, or deception.