(CNN)The Minnesota Supreme Court overturned a felony rape conviction in a ruling last week because the woman was intoxicated by her own will during the alleged assault.
Minnesota Supreme Court overturns a felony rape conviction because the woman voluntarily got intoxicated
Though advocates say the ruling comes as no surprise, it underscored a need to change the current Minnesota law that governs rape charges when alcohol is involved.
Minnesota law criminalizes as "criminal sexual conduct in the third degree" sexual penetration by a person who "knows or has reason to know that the complainant is ... mentally incapacitated." The state statute currently defines "mentally incapacitated" as meaning "that a person under the influence of alcohol, a narcotic, anesthetic, or any other substance, administered to that person without the person's agreement, lacks the judgment to give a reasoned consent to sexual contact or sexual penetration."
Interpreting the statute, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled, "The legislative definition of 'mentally incapacitated,' as set forth in (the law), does not include a person who is voluntarily intoxicated by alcohol."
"We hold that a person is mentally incapacitated under the definition adopted by the Legislature ... when that person is 'under the influence of alcohol ... administered to that person without the person's agreement,'" the Supreme Court decision said. "Consequently, we reverse the decision of the court of appeals and remand to the district court for a new trial."
Lindsay Brice, the Law and Policy Director for the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said she was not surprised by the court's opinion and said that it was "a known statutory problem" her group has been working on for years.
Brice said "most of us expected" this outcome.
"The opinion itself is not surprising at all -- it simply reflects the need for change at the legislature," she added.
According to the decision, the victim consumed approximately five shots of vodka and a prescription narcotic pill before going to a bar in Minneapolis in May 2017. Afte