Sexual Assault LawyerJanuary 16, 2019
Allegations of sexual assault are taken more seriously than many other crimes. In the age of social media and #metoo, sexual assault claims are being brought into the spotlight more frequently. Unfortunately, this can mean that simply being accused of sexual assault can tarnish a person’s reputation. For people who have never been accused of a crime, a charge of sexual assault can be devastating.
Definition of Sexual Assault
Section 271 of the Criminal Code of Canada defines the range of punishment for a person found guilty of sexual assault. However, defining “sexual assault” requires some more digging. “Assault” is defined in section 265(1) of the Code as the direct or indirect application of force against another person. It is necessary that that person applies force without the other person’s consent. An assault can also happen when a person attempts or threatens to apply non-consensual physical contact to another person. Finally, an assault can occur when a person is holding a weapon and stops or interferes with another person.
This definition of assault applies to all forms of assault, including sexual assault. A sexual assault is therefore an assault that has a sexual nature. Another way of putting it is an assault that violates the sexual integrity of a person. A person can be guilty of sexual assault even if he wasn’t trying to get sexual pleasure from the touching. There are also versions of sexual assault that vary in seriousness, such as sexual assault causing bodily harm, aggravated sexual assault, and sexual assault with a weapon. For more information on the definition of sexual assault, click here. (hyperlink to “What is the definition of sexual assault in Canada?” article)
Hopefully, an innocent person will eventually be found not guilty at trial. A person who has not yet been proven to be guilty of sexual assault is presumed innocent by the court. The presumption of innocence is one of the most important aspects of Canadian criminal law. However, simply being charged with sexual assault does carry consequences. For example, an accused person will be subject to bail conditions while they wait for their day in court.
A common bail condition is that a person will not be allowed to communicate with the alleged victim (called the “complainant) in any way. This can be very difficult in cases where the complainant is the accused person’s spouse. If the accused and the complainant have children together, this may result in the accused not being allowed to see the children while out on bail. It may also mean that the accused person will not be allowed to return to the family home while the charges are being dealt with.
While it might be possible to change a person’s bail conditions, the process can be very complex. Often in cases of sexual assault charges, conditions restricting communication with the complainant are considered essential, and will be left unchanged.
Sexual Assault Convictions
A person who is found guilty and convicted of sexual assault with face very serious consequences. A conviction of sexual assault can result in a jail sentence of up to 10 years. In cases where the victim is under 16 years-old, the maximum sentence is 14 years in jail. There will also be mandatory minimum jail sentences of at least 6 months where the victim is under 16 years old.
A sexual assault conviction will also mean the accused person will have to comply with the Sex Offender Information Registry Act (“SOIRA”). A SOIRA order means that a person will be put on the National Sex Offender Registry. When a person is placed on the Sex Offender Registry, they must keep the police informed of where they live, when and where they plan to travel, and even the kind of car they own. A person can be on the Registry for 10 years, 20 years, or (in some cases) for the rest of his life.
Being convicted of sexual assault will also have immigration consequences. Border guards between the United States and Canada have the power to turn away anyone who has been convicted of a “crime of moral turpitude.” This means a crime that shocks the public and is particularly nasty or evil. Sexual assault, in certain circumstances, can be seen as one of those crimes. This means that a person who has been convicted might be unable to enter the United States.
Depending on the situation, a judge might think it necessary to order the convicted person to stay away from children. This order can require the person to stay away from playgrounds, public swimming pools, or community centres. It can also forbid them from having a job or volunteer position that involves being in contact with children. This means that teachers, daycare supervisors or coaches may face unemployment if they are convicted of sexual assault.
Protecting Your Liberty
While Lakin Afolabi Law Professional Corporation handles all types of criminal charges, our law firm is particularly skilled and experienced in defending people charged with sexual assault. We recognize that seconds of indiscretion during otherwise consensual sexual activity can be devastating. We also recognize that a person can easily be accused of sexual assault, even when there is no truth to the accusation. It is for this reason that we are dedicated to ensuring the rights and interests of an accused person are protected to the fullest.
If you or a loved one have been charged with sexual assault, our team is eager to assist you in this difficult time in your life. Call our office today.