Sexual Assault  

Have You Been Charged with Sexual Assault?

Sexual Assault Charges

Sexual Assault is one of the most common offences with the most serious life altering consequences. The “me too” movement has played a significant role in the substantial increase cases.

Sexual Assault encompass vast range of activity from touching on one end of the scale to forced intercourse at the most serious end. Sexual assault is defined as any non-consensual sexual contact imposed on a person.

The law has become very complex and now motions are required to rely on and anything the complainant may have an expectation of privacy in. Lengthy motions are also required to ask the complainant about any other sexual activity not related to the exact nature of the charge.

Types of Sexual Assault Charges

Sexual assault refers to any sexual act carried out without the victim's consent and involves varying degrees of harm. The charges can include:

  • 1. Sexual Assault
  • 2. Sexual Assault Causing Bodily Harm
  • 3. Aggravated Sexual Assault

Criminal Code Definition of Sexual Assault

As per section 271 of the Criminal Code:
A person who commits a sexual assault is guilty of either:
(a) an indictable offence, punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years, or up to 14 years if the victim is under 16 years old, with a minimum one-year sentence; or
(b) a summary offence, punishable by imprisonment for up to 18 months, or up to 2 years less a day if the victim is under 16 years old, with a minimum six-month sentence.
To summarize, the Criminal Code defines sexual assault as the intentional application of force, without the other person's consent, in a sexual context.

Sexual Assault Penalties Sexual Assault Penalties and Consequences

Sexual assault is a serious offence that can result in imprisonment for up to 10 or 14 years, depending on the severity and the victim's age. Although women are statistically at higher risk, anyone can be a victim of sexual assault regardless of their race, age, or gender.

Even allegations of lower-level sexual assault can have a significant impact, tarnishing one's reputation, personal and professional life, and hindering educational pursuits. If an accusation becomes a formal charge, these consequences may be irreversible. In such cases, it is crucial for one to get legal advice from an experience lawyer.

Section 278 Application (Records)

Section 278.2 of the Canadian Criminal Code pertains to the production of records in legal proceedings, particularly in the context of offences involving a complainant or a witness. It specifies that, except as provided in sections 278.3 to 278.91, no record related to a complainant or a witness shall be produced to an accused in any proceedings regarding certain offences. This section is designed to protect the privacy and integrity of records related to complainants and witnesses, especially in sensitive cases.

How to Defend a Sexual Assault Charge Section 276 Application (Prior Sexual Activity)

Section 276 of the Canadian Criminal Code is known as the "rape shield law." It establishes an exclusionary rule of evidence, specifically concerning the admissibility of evidence about a complainant's sexual activity in criminal proceedings.

Section 276 prohibits the use of evidence related to the sexual activity of a complainant that is not part of the criminal offense being tried. This rule is designed to prevent such evidence from being used to support prohibited inferences about the complainant's behavior or character that are irrelevant to the charges at hand.

It is essential to retain a lawyer that understands these complex rules to ensure you have your constitutional right to make full answer and defence to the charges you may be facing.

Sex Offender Registry

Convictions for sexual assault can lead to placement on both Ontario and Federal sex offender registries for 10 years, 20 years, or life, depending on the nature of the crime and whether certain statutory requirements are met. Those on the registry have ongoing reporting obligations and must adhere to its rules. While not public, the registry can have severe negative consequences for the individual's future, as it is accessible by the police.

How to Defend a Sexual Assault Charge

Our goal is to assess your case and develop a fact-based strategy to protect your freedom and reputation. In constructing your defence, we will:

  • 1. Examine the circumstances to uncover inconsistencies, improbabilities, or motives that favor your case.
  • 2. Create reasonable doubt by cross-examining the complainant and challenging their credibility and reliability.
  • 3. Determine the most effective defence strategy, whether it involves consent or a mistaken belief in consent.
  • 4. Assess whether your constitutional rights have been violated.
  • 5. Prepare you to testify at trial.
  • 6. Advocate on your behalf with the crown to minimize your sentence if you choose to plead guilty. Whether you are innocent or admit to the crime, we believe that everyone deserves the best legal representation.
  • How to Have a Sexual Assault Charge Dropped

    In certain cases, it is possible for minor sexual assault charges to be resolved without going to trial. This depends on the specifics of the case and whether you have a prior criminal record. There are two situations when this may occur:

    1. The Crown reviews the evidence and determines that there is no reasonable prospect of conviction.
    2. The victim is unable to testify due to psychological reasons, and the Crown agrees it is not in the victim's or society's best interests to proceed with the charges or to resolve your matter by way of a peace bond.

How to Manage False Allegations of Sexual Assault

When facing allegations of sexual assault, whether true or false, it is critical to act promptly. To protect yourself and mount an effective defense:

1. Immediately consult an experienced sexual assault defence lawyer.
2. Comply with your lawyer's requests.
3. Document the events accurately, sharing the details only with your lawyer.4. Compile a list of witnesses who can support your account.
5. Gather any relevant evidence, such as social media posts or text messages, and provide them to your lawyer.
6. ALWAYS get legal advice before speaking with the police.

Sexual Assault Judicial Process

After arrest, your first court appearance will occur in about three to six weeks, although timing may vary. Your lawyer will attend remand appearances to gather information, receive disclosure, and meet with the Crown. A juridical pre-trial will then be conducted, enabling your lawyer to set a trial date. Sexual assault trials typically take multiple days, and more complex cases may last several weeks or months.

Sexual Assault Lawyer in Hamilton, Ontario

If you or someone you know is facing a sexual assault charge, it is crucial to seek legal help as soon as possible. Let Kaley Hepburn, an experienced sexual assault lawyer provide judgment-free support and effective representation. We offer free online consultations to explain the court process and develop the best defense strategy for your case. Contact us today to get started.

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