In Canada, sexual assault occurs when a victim is coaxed, manipulated, or forced into any unwanted sexual activity. In order to secure a successful conviction for sexual assault, a Crown prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the assault itself and that the accused intended to commit the assault.
In order to prove that the accused committed a physical act, the prosecutor will have to demonstrate that there was touching, that the touching was of a sexual nature and that there was an absence of consent. A conviction for sexual assault is very serious and can result in a prison sentence, loss of employment, mandatory supervision upon release, and registration as a sex offender.
If you have been accused or charged with sexual assault, founded or unfounded, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. When formulating the best defence to sexual assault allegations, there are a number of important factors to consider. A lawyer will be able to assist you in assessing all relevant factors and creating the best defence possible.
There are many ways in which to defend sexual assault charges, listed below are just some of the most common.
In sexual assault cases, alcohol or drugs are often contributing factors. In a situation like this, an accuser may have lowered inhibitions and consent to the sexual activity in question. After regaining sobriety, they may have second thoughts, or regrets or may not remember the encounter accurately. Drunken or drug-induced consent is still consent unless the complainant was so incapacitated by alcohol or a drug that they did not have the ability to consent (for example, a semi-unconscious drunken person who does not know what they are doing). The accuser may claim to have been sexually assaulted when, in fact, the sex was consensual.
Alternatively, the accuser may have had a “blackout” from alcohol where they provided consent in a relatively drunken condition, but still had the capacity to consent and does not remember providing their consent.
The Crown prosecutor is allowed to lead various types of evidence including: witness statements, witness testimony, photographic and forensic evidence, and the statements or admissions made by an accused. In order to secure a successful conviction, they must demonstrate that this evidence proves an accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor lacks evidence to reach this high standard of proof, there should not be a guilty verdict.
In some cases, someone accused of sexual assault can beat the charge with evidence of their actual innocence. This can include:
In some situations, a complainant may make a false allegation of sexual assault. There are many reasons for this, including:
Showing that the allegations are false or that the complainant had an ulterior motive can provide a defence to sexual assault charges.
In Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides several protections guaranteed to an individual who has been charged with a crime. A violation of these rights can force the exclusion of evidence or the lessening of charges. In some instances, a Charter violation can result in charges being dropped altogether. A qualified defence lawyer will be able to help in identifying if any violation of an accused’s rights has occurred.
If you have been charged with sexual assault it is important that you do not speak with the police. Upon your arrest, you should assert your right to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. If you do not already know a lawyer the police will have a list of local lawyers for you to choose from.
If the police are persistent and continue to try and question you, firmly (yet politely) tell them that you are exercising your right to remain silent. Your right to silence is protected under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The police may keep you in an interview room for many hours in an attempt to have you answer their questions and provide a statement. Your best course of action is to calmly repeat that you are exercising your right to silence. Even if you are totally innocent, you may hurt your chances of winning your case if you cooperate with the police and provide them with a statement. You do not want to accidentally say something that can later be used against you.
It is also important if you have been charged with sexual assault you don’t contact the complainant or anyone else involved in the case. Doing so can appear as though you are trying to get them to change their story in some way.
A conviction for sexual assault will always result in a criminal record for the accused which may cause them to lose their job or impact their ability to gain employment in the future. There can be a wide range of penalties imposed upon an accused by a judge including: prohibitions from consuming alcohol and having to register as a sexual offender. Additionally, the maximum sentences for sexual assault in Canada are:
For a summary conviction offence:
If proceeding by indictment:
If a weapon was used during the sexual assault:
A conviction of sexual assault is very serious in Canada. If you have been charged with sexual assault it is important to speak with a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible since the potential penalties are so severe. A lawyer who is experienced in defending criminal charges will be able to help identify all defences available to you in order to have your charges reduced or in some cases even dropped. The team at Pyzer Criminal Lawyers is experienced in defending sexual assault charges. If you have been charged with sexual assault and would like a free case evaluation call 416-658-1818 or visit https://www.torontodefencelawyers.com/.