chain of paper dolls family membersUnder Criminal Code s. 155(1), incest is defined as having sexual intercourse with someone who is a "parent, child, brother, sister, grandparent or grandchild." The definition of brother and sister also includes half-brothers and half-sisters. To fit the description of the offence, the offender must know the other person in the sexual relationship is a blood relative. If you have been accused of sexual contact by a family member, it is important that you call an experienced sex offence lawyer as soon as possible. Your reputation, freedom, and future are at stake.

Penalties If Convicted of Incest in Ontario

Incest—like other sex offences in Canada—is always treated as an indictable offence by the Crown. An offender may be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison on conviction. If the alleged victim is under 16 years of age, the offender faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison but will likely be sentenced to a much longer jail term.

Rules of Evidence in an Incest Case

When an incest case goes to trial, corroboration of the complainant's version of events by another witness or through records is not required for the Crown to get a conviction. The defence can't use the complainant's prior sexual history as a reason to assume they are less likely to be believed. The complainant's "sexual reputation" (general or specific) is not admissible to support or challenge the complainant's credibility in court. You need a defence lawyer on your side who understands the rules of evidence in sex crimes and has the experience necessary to build a tight case on your behalf.

Possible Defences for an Incest Charge

The exact approach your defence lawyer will take depends entirely on the facts of your case. Here are some possible defences that could be used:

  • Complainant brought false charges. Was the accused involved in any family law matters when the complainant made allegations of incest against them? Is it possible a disgruntled former spouse or partner has coached a minor child into making a false statement? The defence team will investigate these kinds of questions.
  • Accused acted under duress. Section 155(3) of the Criminal Code states that an accused won't be found guilty of incest if they were "under restraint, duress or fear of the person at the time the sexual intercourse occurred." The specific circumstances around the time the offence was committed matter greatly in defending someone accused of incest.
  • The accused did not know the other person was a relative. Since the crime of incest requires that the offender knows that the other person is a blood relative, if the accused can show that they were unaware of this fact, the charges should be dropped. It is unusual, but if there is a situation where a person doesn't know the identity of their blood relatives, such as a closed infant adoption, this defence could apply. 

Why You Need an Experienced Criminal Defence Lawyer

If you have been charged with incest in London, Toronto, Windsor, or anywhere else in Ontario, you need an experienced criminal defence lawyer to defend your interests. Remember that the complainant only has to allege that contact occurred for the police to bring incest charges against you. As with other sexually based offences, the police may or may not decide to interview you before making an arrest.

If you were arrested and charged with incest or any other sexual offence, your best bet is to say nothing and contact a criminal defence lawyer for advice. A conviction for incest can impact multiple aspects of your life, from your personal relationships to your career and future international travel plans.

At Kruse Law Firm, we specialize in criminal defence law. Our lawyers have the knowledge and experience to look for any holes or errors in the case against you. We work aggressively to help you avoid a criminal conviction and minimize the consequences of a criminal charge on your life. Contact us today at 1-800-699-0806 to arrange your free case review.

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