Sexual Assault Lawyers in Calgary

In simple terms, sexual assault refers to a sexual contact or act done without the freely-given consent of the victim. It is an infraction of the sexual integrity of the victim. It is proscribed by section 271 of the Criminal Code, and is a hybrid offence, that is, it is both an indictable and/or summary conviction offence. As an indictable offence, sexual assault attracts a maximum of punishment of 10 years imprisonment. However, if the victim is under 16 years of age, the maximum punishment is imprisonment for 14 years.  The minimum punishment is imprisonment for a term of one year.

Where the Crown proceeds under summary conviction, the offence of sexual assault attracts imprisonment for a maximum term of 18 months. However, if the victim is under 16 years of age, the maximum punishment is imprisonment for two years less a day. The minimum punishment under a summary conviction procedure is imprisonment for a term of six months. There is no provision for fine in lieu of imprisonment.

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Key Takeaways

  • The stakes involved in a case of sexual assault are usually very high, especially considering the psychological and traumatic effects it could have on the victim. The severity of the charge depends on the circumstances of the case and perhaps the criminal records of the accused. Usually, the investigation would consider the part of the body touched, the nature of the contact, the words and gestures accompanying the act, threats or force used, and other circumstances surrounding the act.
  • Sexual assault could be an indictable offence attracting a minimum jail term of one year and a maximum of 10 years. The punishment is aggravated to a maximum of 14 years if the victim is younger than 16. As a summary conviction offence, it attracts a minimum of six months and a maximum of 18 months jail term. If the victim is less than 16 years of age, the punishment is aggravated to two years of jail term less a day.
  • However, for sexual assault causing bodily harm if the victim is under age 16, a minimum of five years is served and for maximum, life imprisonment. In other instances where the sexual assault causes bodily harm with possession of other firearm, a minimum of four years is imposed and a maximum of 14 years is given.
  • Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, all accused persons have the right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause. The court may impose bail conditions which the accused must follow. Examples of conditions that may be imposed include:
    • Attend court as directed
    • Remain within a particular territorial jurisdiction
    • Notify any change of address and employment
    • Deposit a passport/travel document
    • Have a surety
    • Do not possess or use a device capable of accessing the internet
    • Be under house arrest and/or keep a curfew
    • Wear electronic monitoring equipment, such as an ankle bracelet
  • An accused may, depending on the circumstance of the case and with the legal assistance beat a charge of sexual assault. Also given that sexual assault is a hybrid offence, an accused may, depending on the circumstance of each case and with the legal assistance beat the maximum punishment and attract a less severe sentence.

How can a sexual assault lawyer in Calgary help?

One of the intriguing ways a criminal defence attorney can help an accused of sexual assault is in the area of pre-charge legal advice. Here, the criminal defence lawyer provides invaluable guidance even before charges are formally filed. They can advise individuals on their rights, potential legal consequences, and the best course of action to mitigate risks. This early intervention can often influence the direction of the case and help clients make informed decisions.

Interactions with law enforcements can be intimidating and complex, especially for individuals unfamiliar with legal proceedings. A defence attorney will help navigate interactions with law enforcement to avoid unintentional self-incrimination, safeguarding the defendant’s legal standing.

Witness testimony can significantly impact the outcome of a case. Defence lawyers meticulously interview witnesses to unveil important information, evaluate credibility, and identify inconsistencies. This will prepare witnesses for trial, ensuring that their testimony aligns with the defence strategy.

In cases involving complex legal or scientific issues, expert testimony can be indispensable. Criminal defence lawyers are able to assist in figuring out which expert witness can provide specialized knowledge and analysis to support the defence’s arguments.

Furthermore, navigating the criminal justice system and the court process can be quite complicated, with intricate procedures and legal nuances. Criminal defence lawyers possess comprehensive knowledge of the legal system, court rules, and precedents. They guide their clients through every stage of the legal process, from arraignment to trial, ensuring that their rights are protected and advocating for the most favourable outcome possible.

Calgary Sexual Assault Lawyers

Sexual Assault Charge in the Criminal Code of Canada

271 Everyone who commits a sexual assault is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years or, if the complainant is under the age of 16 years, to imprisonment for a term of not more than 14 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 18 months or, if the complainant is under the age of 16 years, to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years less a day and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months.

Examples of Sexual Assault Charges

  • Forcible Rape: This involves non-consensual sexual intercourse achieved through physical force, threats, coercion, or intimidation. It encompasses various forms of penetration, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration.
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault: This occurs if the person assaulted is wounded, maimed, disfigured, beaten or in danger of losing her/his life while being sexually assaulted.
  • Statutory Rape: Statutory rape occurs when an individual engages in sexual activity with a person who is below the age of consent, even if the sexual activity is consensual. The age of consent varies by jurisdiction but typically ranges from 16 to 18 years old.

Consequences of a Sexual Assault Charge

The offence of sexual assault is a hybrid offence. Therefore, the prosecutor can, considering the nature of the actions of the accused and other factors, choose to proceed with the charge as either a summary conviction offence or an indictable offence. When the crown attorney stipulates sexual assault charges as an indictable offence and the victim is under age 16, the Court will, upon a finding of guilt, impose a mandatory minimum one-year prison term, and have the discretion to pass down a maximum 14-year sentence. Where the victim is over 16, the maximum will be a 10-year sentence. 

As a summary conviction offence, the minimum sentence that the Court would impose is six months in jail, with a maximum of 18 months. But where the victim is less than 16 years, the maximum jail term may be extended to two years less a day.

Calgary Sexual Assault Lawyers

Sexual Assault Charge Defences

Being accused of sexual assault can be really scandalous, and may cost the accused his/her reputation, job, liberty and possibly relationship with loved ones. However, some defences may be available to the accused depending on the circumstances of the case.

  • Consent: In plethora of cases, an accused would usually admit a sexual relation. But the defence would be that the alleged victim consented to the sexual activity. One of the fundamental components of a sexual assault case is that the behavior of the accused occurs against the will of the alleged victim. Therefore, if the defendant is able to establish a reasonable doubt that the complainant consented to the sexual contact, a very solid defence can be created. However, this defence would be available where the victim is a minor who is not capable of giving consent, even if he/she supposedly consented to the sexual act.
  • Alibi: Providing evidence that the defendant was elsewhere at the time the alleged sexual assault occurred can be a strong defence. Alibi witnesses, surveillance footage, or electronic records may be used to support this defence.
  • Intoxication: Claiming that the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the alleged sexual assault and therefore unable to express intent is another possible defence. This defence may be more effective if the defendant can prove that they were involuntarily intoxicated or that their intoxication impaired their ability to understand the nature of the sexual activity.

Sexual Assault Charge Investigation

The investigation of an allegation of sexual assault is initiated by reporting the offence to the law enforcement officer, like the police. Thereafter, the police may go about collecting evidence necessary identity the perpetrator (if not already known) and necessary to establish a case. Evidence collection may involve collecting physical evidence such as DNA or digital evidence such as social media, text messages, etc. It may also involve interviewing and taking statements from the victim, witnesses and the suspects. Evidence gathered is then secured, and where a case is established against an accused, legal proceeding may be commenced.

Calgary Sexual Assault Lawyers

Bail Conditions for Sexual Assault Charges 

Essentially, all accused persons have the right to liberty and are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty. An accused person also has the charter right to be released on bail on reasonable terms. The purpose of imposing bail conditions is to address risks posed by the accused and ensure they do not commit new criminal offences while awaiting trial or interfere with the administration of justice, and are available for their trial.

Frequently Asked Questions Sexual Assault

Will a sexual assault charge show on my criminal record?

Yes. An accused will have a criminal record if he has been convicted of the charge.

Can I travel while a sexual assault case is ongoing?

If the bail condition does not prevent the accused from travelling, he may travel. But certain countries may not admit a person who has pending criminal charges in Canada.

Can I go to jail for sexual assault charges?

Yes, if found guilty by the court.

Do I have to tell my employer about sexual assault charges?

Some jobs require an employee to undergo a criminal background check in which case, this information about the employee’s sexual assault charge may be available to the employer.

Will I be on the sex offender’s registry?

Upon conviction, the accused may be required to register on the sex offender registry.

Related Offences

  • Child luring: Child luring is the criminal use of telecommunication to entice a known minor for the purpose of facilitating the commission of certain offences, including sexual assault. See section 172.1 of the Canadian Criminal Code.
  • Child pornography: Section 163.1 of the Criminal Code gives a comprehensive clarification of child pornography, to imagery, textual content, audio or videos showing individuals under 18 in explicit sexual acts or displaying their sexual organs or anal region for a sexual purpose.
  • Sexual interference charge: It is a sexual offence against anyone who touches another person under the age of consent (16 years) for a sexual purpose. See section 151 of the Criminal Code.
  • Voyeurism: Voyeurism refers to the act of surreptitiously observing others (either mechanically or electronically) typically in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, eg: while they are undressing, engaging in sexual activity, or participating in private activities. See section 162 (1) Criminal Code.

Client Reviews

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