Sexual Assault

If you have been accused of a sexual assault, you must retain a lawyer without delay. This is a very serious charge and you should not plead guilty to it without speaking to a lawyer first.

Consequences

A conviction for sexual assault is likely going to attract a jail sentence, long probation, DNA order, lifetime weapons prohibition and 20-years SOIRA (National Sex Offender Registry) order.

Historical allegations

Sexual assault allegation may be historical.  There is no statute of limitations with respect to these charges in Canada.  However, if the charge is laid more than 6 months after the time of the alleged offence, the defendant is entitled to have a jury trial.

Consent

Very often the accused claims that the complainant consented to a sexual activity in question.  Is this a good defence?  It’s important to understand that certain scenarios are not considered by law to be supportive of the defence of consent.  Examples of these are: when the accused have only been advised of a consent by a third party (not too common); when the complainant was not capable of consent (e.g. intoxicated, mentally ill  or too young to consent); when the accused has only received a consent because he was in a position of trust, power or authority over the victim; when the victim indicated that she is not consenting by her conduct or words (including situations where the consent was initially proper but then was withdrawn by the victim).

Honest but mistaken belief in consent is a valid defence.  That belief must not be induced by drugs or alcohol.  The accused must have taken reasonable steps to figure out if there was a consent.

The accused would have to testify for this defence to be successful (even though generally the accused has no obligation to testify in these cases, as the burden of proof is on the Crown).