What is a Sexual Offence?
The most common charge in this category is Sexual Assault, which is the intentional application of force of a sexual nature or in circumstances that are sexual.
Other offences include Sexual Exploitation, which is sexual contact by a person in a position of authority.
Sexual exploitation is sexual contact on a person under the age of 16, and Sexual Invitation is inviting a person under the age of 16 to touch another person for a sexual purpose.
Do I have a Defence?
The most common defence to these charges is either denial or consent. If you hire an effective lawyer, sexual assault prosecutions can be defeated on determinations of credibility.
Consent is defined in the Criminal Code of Canada as “the voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question”. Consent not available under some of the following circumstances:
- The agreement is expressed by the words or conduct of a person other than the complainant;
- The complainant is incapable (i.e. incapable due to the consumption of alcohol or drugs, age or mental disability) of consenting to the activity;
- The complainant is induced to engage in the activity by abusing a position of trust, power or authority;
- The complainant expresses, by words or conduct that is demonstrative of a lack of agreement to engage in the activity;
- While the complainant initially consented to sexual activity, such consent to sexual activity is subsequently withdrawn by expresses words or conduct.
You may also assert an honest but mistaken belief to (a) sexual act(s). However, this defence is not available when the said belief came to fruition through self-induced intoxication; if one is “reckless” or willfully blind relative to the complainant’s lack of consent; if the accused person is unable to articulate the words used to buttress consent; and the where the accused person does not take “reasonable steps” in the circumstances to ascertain whether or not the complainant was in fact consenting.
Consent is not available as a defence for persons allegedly in a position of authority and the complainant is under the age of 18, nor is it available as a defence if the complainant is under the age of 16. Depending on the facts, a myriad of other defences may also be available, but when advancing a defence of denial or consent, the case will likely turn on the testimony of the complainant, which is why it is imperative to hire a lawyer with the ability to cross-examine the complainant with vigour and properly and effectively advance your version of events.
Allegations of sexual assault can have devastating implications that may follow you for the rest of your life. If you are convicted of a sexual offence, there is a strong chance that it will attract a jail term. For major sexual assaults, the Alberta Court of Appeal has mandated a 4-year starting point in jail. If you are convicted, you will be required to provide a sample of your blood the National DNA databank, and you may be required to register in the Sexual Offender Information Registry (SOIRA).
How can we Help?
Given the severity of the possible consequences and the stigma of a sex crime, it is vital that you hire a lawyer who will zealously defend you to advance your version and raise every possible defence to which you are entitled to at law. Your liberty, and personal and professional life may hang in the balance, and we will work tirelessly to uphold your rights and use our experience and reputation to either beat the charges outright, or minimize their penalties to the greatest extent possible.