If you have been charged with a Sexual Offence, you have been charged with one of the most serious and stigmatizing offences in Canadian criminal law. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016 there were 2,698 reported incidents of Sexual Offences in Alberta, with over half of all Sexual Offence convictions resulting in time spent in jail. Needless to say, this is a very serious offence that can have devastating impacts on your ability to live your life normally.
‘Sexual Offence’ refers to a wide range of offences including Sexual Assault, Aggravated Sexual Assault, Sexual Assault Causing Bodily Harm, or Sexual Assault Against a Minor.
Broadly speaking, you will have committed a sexual offence when you intentionally perform some sort of sexual activity without the consent of the complainant. The type of activity that can be the subject matter of a Sexual Offence is broad, including everything from an unwanted kiss or touch to forced sexual activity.
Definitive Guide to Sexual Assault Laws in Canada
If you or a loved one has been charged with Sexual Assault, your best defence is an experienced legal team. Read our comprehensive guide to Sexual Assault to learn about the charges, defences, and penalties.
Sexual Offence investigations typically begin when a complainant or someone close to them reports the unwanted sexual activity to the Edmonton Police Service. The EPS has a special unit that they dedicate exclusively to the investigation of sexual offences called the Sexual Assault Section. Once an allegation of sexual assault is made, they will obtain a statement from the complainant, and will often gather other forensic evidence that can be used to incriminate you for the offence. The evidence that they gather against you can come from multiple sources such as the crime scene, the complainant themselves, or from information they receive from the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). SART is a unit of specially trained, registered nurses that offer sexual assault care to complainants in the emergency rooms of 10 hospitals in the Edmonton Area.
Defending Sexual Offence Charges in Edmonton
Defending a Sexual Offence charge is one of the most complicated processes in Canadian criminal law. The legal concepts and statutory provisions that govern the prosecution of sexual offences are numerous and complex. In order to successfully defend a sexual offence charge, it is vital that you have a skilled and experienced criminal defence lawyer. At Strategic Criminal Defence, we have successfully defended many different types of Sexual Offence cases, and have gained the experience to effectively and strategically resolve your matter. We typically begin by identifying all weaknesses and inconsistencies in the case against you and then use this information to try and reach a favourable pre-trial resolution with the Crown prosecutor. If we cannot achieve a resolution that you find favourable, we will mount a full and effective defence to your charges in trial.
Some common trial strategies that can be used to defend a Sexual Offence charge include:
Arguing for the exclusion of evidence obtained in violation of your Charter rights
Flushing out inconsistencies in witness testimony and undermining witness credibility through cross-examination
Introducing exculpatory evidence in the trial
After the complaint is made, the police will often contact you and ask you to provide a statement. Sometimes this is to gather more information, or sometimes it is a tactic used to facilitate your arrest. Either way, once you come into contact with the police, do not say anything until you have been able to seek advice from a lawyer.
Bail Conditions for Sexual Offences in Edmonton
Once you are arrested, there is a high likelihood that you will be held in custody until you can have a bail hearing. You will typically be held in the Arrest Processing Unit at the Edmonton Police Headquarters at you can be brought before a justice of the peace for your bail hearing. In Edmonton, bail hearings run 24 hours a day at the Edmonton bail hearing office located on the Main Floor, SW Exterior entry of the Brownlee Building at 10365 97 St NW. This is where you will be brought for your first bail hearing. If you fail to secure your release at this stage, you will have to wait until normal business hours when you can go before a judge in court for another hearing where you can argue for your release. Given the gravity of the offence, there is a high likelihood that you could spend a significant amount of time in custody if you do not retain a criminal defence lawyer to assist you with bail.
As such, if you anticipate being brought into custody or someone you know has been brought into custody for a sexual offence, contact our office as soon as possible. We will immediately work to facilitate your release, and will take all possible steps to ensure that the conditions of your bail impose the least restrictions on your liberty while we resolve your matter.
Once you are released, you will often need to comply with strict bail conditions. If you have been charged with sexually assaulting a minor, you will likely be prohibited from frequenting places like schools or parks, and will be prohibited from communicating with underage individuals. Evidently, these conditions can significantly and adversely impact your life in a number of ways. If you have been recently released on bail for a Sexual Offence, contact one of our criminal defence lawyers without delay. We will take steps to alter your conditions where possible so that you can live your life normally while we work to resolve your charges.
The Punishment for Sexual Offences in Edmonton
If you are convicted of a Sexual Offence, the severity of your sentence can vary significantly based on the offence you have been convicted of. For example, following a conviction for a more minor sexual assault (i.e. a conviction for unwanted groping), you may receive a suspended sentence that allows you to stay out of prison. By contrast, if you have been convicted of sexually assaulting a minor, you will be required to serve a mandatory minimum sentence of 6 months to one year in jail.
In addition to your sentence, you will also be given ancillary or additional orders that will have a profound effect on your life following conviction. In accordance with the Sexual Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA), upon your conviction, the judge will order that you become a registered sex offender. This means that you will have to provide your information to the National Sex Offender Registry, a database managed by the police that monitors convicted sex offenders. In addition, because you will have been convicted of a primary designated offence you will also be ordered to provide samples of your DNA to the National DNA Databank. This will provide the police with access to information about your DNA so that they can identify you or rule you out as a suspect in future criminal investigations.
Given the harsh repercussions that will follow a Sexual Offence conviction, if you have been charged with this offence or think you might be charged in the near future, contact us immediately. We will use our experience defending a wide range of Sexual Offence cases and excellent advocacy skills to provide you with the most effective defence possible for this very serious charge.
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I highly recommended Jessica she got all my charges withdrawn and I didn’t even have to show up to one court hearing she took care of everything so I got to stay working and didn’t have to miss a day the only time I was going to have to show up was trial but it didn’t get that far before she got all charges withdrawn if I could give them a ten I would best lawyer I’ve ever had and actually tried to get them withdrawn not just get me fines and on probation!!!
I’m glad I made the right choice to retain the legal services of Mr. Daniel Murphy who represented me in a very difficult criminal case that was very hard to beat due to the circumstances surrounding the case. Mr. Murphy advised me wisely and approached the matter with a well-planned legal strategy. He is well versed with the law and plans ahead. I’m grateful for the depth of intellect he has brought to the court. He is firm, fair and understands the tactics of the crown prosecutors and will not be caught unaware of their plans.