WHAT IS A SEXUAL ASSAULT?
Sexual assault includes any non-consensual touching or other physical contact between two persons that has a sexual nature. This offence is very broadly defined. It includes everything from what is traditionally described as “rape” all the way to a “stolen kiss” or a brief grab of a person’s breast or buttocks at a bar. For non-consensual touching to be a sexual assault instead of just a “regular” assault, there must be a sexual aspect to the physical contact between the accused and the complainant. To determine whether touching has a “sexual” aspect, a court will consider the circumstances of the touching and by the body parts that were touched. Non-consensual touching of a person’s sex organs is usually considered a sexual assault. It is not necessary for the accused to gain any sexual gratification from an act for the act to be a sexual assault.
Sex Charges and other Sex Crimes
Facing sexual assault charges?
If you are currently facing sexual assault charges contact a criminal lawyer at Currie Law to discuss your case. Our sound representation and experience in these cases may assist you to avoid the severe consequences associated with such an offences.
In order for a person to be convicted of sexual assault, the Crown Prosecutor must prove that the complainant did not consent to the sexual contact. The person must be capable of consenting to the sexual contact, and the consent must be freely given. For example, a person who is too intoxicated to give their consent has not, in law, truly consented.
If the complainant did not give their consent to the sexual contact, an honest but mistaken belief in consent may still be a defence. This “mistaken belief in consent” defence is carefully limited and heavily restricted. There is no such thing as “implied consent” in Canadian law – consent to sexual contact must have been communicated to the accused, through the other person’s words or behaviour. It is also important to note that a person cannot rely on a mistaken belief in consent unless they took all reasonable steps, in the circumstances known to them at the time, to find out whether the other person was consenting to the sexual contact.
The police want to speak with me about an alleged sexual assault or an alleged sex offence.
You should always consult with a lawyer before you speak with the police about a complaint or allegation of a sexual offence – even if you think you are innocent and even if you have nothing to hide.
I think the police might be investigating whether I committed a crime. What should I do?
The police may tell you that they are simply “looking into an incident,” or that they just “need to get your side of the story.”
It is important that you receive legal advice about your rights and responsibilities before you say anything to the police which could hurt your ability to defend yourself.
What are the possible penalties for sexual assault?
Because the crime of sexual assault covers such a wide range of acts, the possible penalties for a conviction for sexual assault range from probation all the way up to a lengthy jail term. The maximum penalty for a sexual assault is ten years in jail, while the maximum penalty for aggravated sexual assault is life in prison.