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Consent means that a person voluntarily and willfully agrees in response to another person's proposition. The person who consents must possess sufficient mental capacity. Consent also requires the absence of coercion, fraud or error. Consent is an essential constituent of a contract and a defense to a tort. However, consent is generally not a defense to criminal charges, with the possible exceptions of rape and sexual assault.

In cases of rape and sexual assault, someone’s consent is not their true intent if they are under duress or fear. For example, coercion and/or subsequent compliance when resistance is no longer useful cannot be considered consent. In addition, a person who is impaired, developmentally disabled, or under the legal age of consent may voluntarily engage in sexual activity and still be unable to give valid consent because they do not have the legal capacity to consent.

Consent can be divided into express and implied. Express consent is the consent given directly, either verbally or in writing. Implied consent is the consent that can be inferred by actions, signs or facts, or even by inaction or silence.

[Last updated in August of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]