Blackout Versus Pass Out in Allegations of Alcohol-involved Sexual Assault: Why Knowing the Difference Matters.

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It is common for not only laypersons but also courts, witnesses, attorneys, and even some experts involved in a criminal sexual assault investigation to confuse the terms "blackout" and "pass out" when referring to the memory, consciousness, and other behavioral ramifications of alcohol intoxication. A typical alcohol-involved sexual assault allegation often includes the partial or total absence of memory for events of the alleged incident. The etiology and behavioral presentations of the types of alcohol-induced memory deficiency evidenced are not all created equal and understanding the differences is crucial to understanding the reasonableness of the potential perceptions or misperceptions of an accused. By improving our understanding of these terms, we can assist the legal process with proper and more accurate history gathering and documentation if we become a party to such an investigation.

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