House Bill 325 was signed into law on July 28, 2022.
This law makes significant changes to Alaska's sexual assault statutes, including how the state of Alaska defines consent.
Frequently Asked Questions about House Bill 325
This web page is intended to provide basic information about the new consent law adopted by the Alaska Legislature in May 2022. This law is now in effect and applies to sexual assaults that occured on or after January 1, 2023.
1. What does the new law say?
AS 11.41.471 "without consent" means that, under the totality of the circumstances surrounding the offense, there was not a freely given, reversible agreement specific to the conduct at issue; in this paragraph, "freely given" means agreement to cooperate in the act was positively expressed by word or action.
2. When is the new law effective?
This law became effective January 1, 2023.
3. What did the old law say?
AS 11.41.471 "without consent" means that a person (A) with or without resisting, is coerced by the use of force against a person or property, or by the express or implied threat of death, imminent physical injury, or kidnapping to be inflicted on anyone; or (B) is incapacitated as a result of an act of the defendant.
4. What is the difference between the old law and the new law?
The old law represents outdated views that amount to victim blaming. Specifically, the more than 40 year-old law required the use of force or threat of force to be considered a sexual assault. This fails to recognize well-known, documented responses to trauma, such as freezing or dissociation, and wrongfully implies that unless someone was left with visible injuries, they were not assaulted. We know that a person may freeze, for example, because the other person can physically overpower the other person and they believe freezing is necessary for survival. This is not the norm for most survivors of sexual assault, but juries were instructed to believe so regardless.
The new definition promotes the concept of affirmative consent, or "yes means yes." Essentially, it means that both parties involved in a sexual encounter must clearly and verbally communicate their enthusiastic consent at every step of the sexual act or activity. Both parties must actively and enthusiastically say "yes" to each aspect of the sexual encounter.
When asking for consent, it is important to use clear and direct language. Examples of things to say include "Is it okay if I touch you here?" or "Would you like to try this?" It is also important to remember that consent can be withdrawn at any time. Therefore, asking questions like "Are you comfortable continuing?" or "Is this okay?" can help ensure that both parties are on the same page. Overall, obtaining affirmative consent is about creating a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
The new law also includes language around circumstances around consent. Specifically, the law now states:
In a prosecution under AS 11.41.410 - 11.41.427, where consent is at issue,
(1) an expression of lack of consent through words or conduct means there is no consent; an expression of lack of consent under this paragraph does not require verbal or physical resistance and may include inaction;
(2) a current or previous dating, social, or sexual relationship between the defendant and the person involved with the defendant in the conduct at issue may not by itself constitute consent;
(3) a person cannot consent if the person is fraudulently made to believe that the sexual act serves a professional purpose; in this paragraph, "professional purpose" means an act the defendant has represented as a necessary part or component of a provided service, part of the routine course of a procedure, or a component of the defendant's profession that would occur if a person sought services from another practitioner in the same field as the defendant.
5. What if my sexual assault happened before January 1, 2023?
The law in place at the time of the sexual assault is applied in that case. The new law applies to cases starting January 1, 2023.
6. Who can I call for more information?
If you need more information regarding consent or would like to schedule a presentation at your school, workplace or community group, contact our Prevention & Education Specialists at [email protected].
There are several organizations that provide information on sexual assault, human rights, the law, and local resources. They include:
Consent: It's as Simple as Tea
Script: Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess Animation: Rachel Brian
VO: Graham Wheeler www.rockstardinosaurpirateprincess.com and http://www.blueseatstudios.com/
Animation courtesy of Emmeline May at rockstardinosaurpirateprincess.com and Blue Seat Studios. Copyright © 2015 RockStarDinosaurPiratePrincess and Blue Seat Studios.