Sexual Assault

Sexual assault and other sex-related offences are among the most serious criminal charges a person can face. If convicted, these charges have serious penalties that include the potential for stigmatization and jeopardizing future job prospects.


What is Sexual Assualt?

Sexual Assault Lawyer in Toronto Ontario

Sexual Assault is defined as any assault of a sexual nature. In the Canadian criminal justice system, Sexual Assault charges are among the most serious an individual can face. If convicted, aside from jail time, a stigmatizing criminal record may follow the offender for life.

The imperative to protect complainants is among the highest priorities in Sexual Assault cases. Our criminal justice system has developed many special rules to ensure people who step forward with Sexual Assault allegations are safeguarded. For example, a complainants' past sexual history may only be introduced into evidence after a special hearing before a judge. Furthermore, the complainants' private records (whether medical or police) can only be accessed by the defence if the judge grants special permission to introduce them into evidence.

Defending the Accused in a Sexual Assault Case

In representing an individual accused of Sexual Assault, an immersive understanding of the options and tools available to fight these charges is imperative.

Counsel for the accused may retain private investigators and hire scientific experts (to analyze DNA or other evidence), among other strategies, to discover weaknesses in the Crown's case.

To effectively represent the accused in court, defence lawyers must make strategic, tactical decisions about how best to argue the evidence.

Sexual assault charges are very burdensome on the accused and their families, putting inordinate pressure and stress on family bonds. The legal process is generally lengthy and uncertain.

An experienced criminal lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of a Sexual Assault trial, ensuring you receive the best defence possible.

If you or someone you know is being accused of Sexual Assault, please reach out to us today to discuss how we can help ensure you receive an exceptional defence and passionate advocacy.

Caramanna, Friedberg LLP has successfully represented countless individuals accused of Sexual Assault. We are here to defend your rights. Call us 24/7 at (416) 924-5969.

See also domestic assault, assault with a weapon

Frequently Asked Questions

In addition to sexual assault, here are numerous sexual offences under the Criminal Code, including, but not limited to:

  • Sexual Assault with a Weapon;
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault;
  • Sexual Interference;
  • Invitation to Sexual Touching;
  • Sexual Exploitation;
  • Sexual Exploitation of Person with a Disability;
  • Luring a child for a sexual purpose;
  • Making sexually explicit material available to a child;
  • Child Pornography;
  • Incest;
  • Bestiality;
  • Indecent Acts;
  • Obtaining Sexual Services;
  • Obtaining a Material Benefit from Sexual Services;
  • Parent or Guardian Procuring Sexual Activity;
  • Householder Permitting Sexual Activity;
  • Procuring Sexual Services; and
  • Voyeurism;
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Honest but Mistaken Belief is a defence that may be raised in sexual assault cases. If the accused honestly believed the complainant was consenting, he would not have formed the requisite intent to be guilty of the offence. However, it is not a defence if the mistaken belief arose from:

  • The accused's self-induced intoxication;
  • The accused's recklessness or wilful blindness;
  • The accused did not take reasonable steps, in the circumstances know to him at the time, to ascertain that the complainant was consenting; or
  • There is evidence that the complainant's voluntary agreement was affirmatively expressed by words or actively expressed by conduct.
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In the case of sexual assault under section 271 of the Criminal Code, in addition to the identity of the accused, and the date, time, and jurisdiction, the Crown must be prove that the accused intended to touch the complainant in a sexual manner, knowing that the complainant was not consenting to that activity or contact.

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What Are The Potential Defences For Sexual Assault?

  • Factual Innocence:If the Crown is unable to prove the essential elements of the particular offence beyond a reasonable doubt, they will have failed to discharge their burden, and the accused will be acquitted.
  • Honest but Mistaken Belief in Consent: If the accused honestly believed the complainant was consenting, he would not have formed the requisite intent to be guilty of the offence. However, it is not a defence if the mistaken belief arose from:
    • The accused’s self-induced intoxication;
    • The accused’s recklessness or wilful blindness;
    • The accused did not take reasonable steps, in the circumstances know to him at the time, to ascertain that the complainant was consenting; or
    • There is evidence that the complainant’s voluntary agreement was affirmatively expressed by words or actively expressed by conduct.
  • Violation of Charter Rights: Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, individuals are afforded specific rights, including:
    • the right against unreasonable search and seizure;
    • the right to not be arbitrarily detained;
    • the right to be informed promptly of the reasons for arrest;
    • the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay; and
    • the right to be tried within a reasonable time.

A successful Charter challenge may also result in a stay of proceedings, or evidence from your case being excluded.

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Sexual assault under section 271 of the Criminal Code is a hybrid offence, meaning the Crown can proceed by summary conviction or indictment. The severity of the penalty varies depending on which way they choose to proceed.

  • If the Crown proceeds by summary conviction: a maximum punishment of 18 months imprisonment. However, if the complainant is under the age of 16, there is a minimum sentence of six months imprisonment, up to a maximum of two years less a day imprisonment.
  • If the Crown proceeds by indictment: a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years. However, if the complainant is under the age of 16, there is a minimum of 1 year imprisonment up to a maximum of 14 years imprisonment.
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Section 273.1(1) of the Criminal Code defines consent , for the purposes of the offences of sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, and aggravated assault, as the voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question.

Consent is not validly obtained where:

  • Consent is expressed by someone other than the complainant;
  • The complainant is incapable of consenting (i.e. unconscious, mentally ill, or so affected by drugs or alcohol that they did not know what they were doing)
  • Consent was obtained in advance to sexual contact (i.e. where the person gave consent then fell asleep);
  • The accused induces the complainant to engage in sexual activity by exercising a position of trust or authority;
  • The complainant expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity; or
  • the complainant, having consented to engage in sexual activity, expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to continue to engage in the activity.
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Sexual Assault is defined as any assault of a sexual nature. In the Canadian criminal justice system, Sexual Assault charges are among the most serious an individual can face. If convicted, aside from jail time, a stigmatizing criminal record may follow the offender for life.

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You must be at least 16 years of age to consent to sexual activity. There are exceptions to this rule if both parties are under the age of 19. The purpose of this exception is so that young teenagers do not face prosecution for engaging in consensual teenage sexual activities.

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The Sexual Offender Information Registration Act (or SOIRA) is a database available to police that provides information with regard to individuals convicted of sexual offences. The purpose of the database is to require convicted individuals to register so that police can prevent and investigate sexual crimes. The database includes the following information about offenders:

  • Name and any alias they use;
  • Date of Birth;
  • Gender;
  • Address of every place they have lived, worked, and volunteered;
  • Address of any educational institution where they are enrolled;
  • Their telephone number;
  • Height and weight;
  • Every distinguishing mark on their body;
  • Licence plate number and vehicle make, model, year, and colour;
  • Licence number and name of issuing jurisdiction(s);
  • Passport number and name of issuing jurisdiction(s);
  • If applicable, their military status; and
  • Photograph of the offender (optional)

If convicted of a designated offence under section 490.011(1), which includes sexual assault, you will be required to register under SOIRA. This order is mandatory if you are convicted. The length of the order depends on how the Crown proceeded and the length of sentence ordered:

  • 10 years if the offence was prosecuted by summary conviction OR the maximum term of imprisonment for the offence is 2 or 5 years;
  • 20 years if the maximum term of imprisonment was 10-14 years;
  • For life if the maximum term of imprisonment is life imprisonment.

Offenders will be required to report every year, as well as notify the police if they intend to be away from their address for more than 7 days.

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