In Canada, the crime of sexual assault covers a broad range of offences. The potential penalties if convicted may range from simple probation to a lengthy jail term.
A sexual assault defence lawyer in Ontario can speak to you about your case if you are facing charges of this nature.
The Process if Someone is Found Guilty of Sexual Assault
If an individual is convicted of sexual assault, occasionally, the presiding judge will immediately choose the punishment he or she feel fits the crime. More often, the sentencing of the accused is delayed for weeks pending the preparation of a pre-sentence report (“PSR”).
A PSR is prepared by a probation officer. The probation officer will confer with people who know the person who has been convicted. The probation officer will then draft a history that details the background, education, work history, lifestyle, attitude, maturity level and prior criminal record of the accused. The judge will then review the PSR and all of the facts of the case and decide the punishment he or she deems appropriate.
During the sentencing hearing, the victim is allowed to provide a written victim impact statement which is often read into the record with the consent of defence counsel. Assuming defence counsel disputes the contents of the victim impact statement, the victim will testify to same and be subject to cross examination by defence counsel. Some of the topics covered in a victim impact statement include:
- Did you sustain any injuries?
- Did you have to miss work because of any injuries?
- How long after the alleged assault were you able to resume your daily routine?
- How did the sexual assault affect your life?
- What are the emotional and psychological consequences of the sexual assault?
Responses to the questions above are another resource the judge takes into account in crafting an appropriate sentence.
In order to determine a fit sentence, the judge will also consider whether the accused has a prior conviction for sexual assault or other crimes. Those who are repeat sexual crime offenders are commonly given punishments that are more severe.
The maximum sentences for sexual assault in Canada are as follows:
- If the crime is tried as a summary conviction offence, the offender can face up to 18 months in jail. The maximum fine that could imposed is $5,000.00. For a summary conviction sexual assault if the complainant is under the age of 16 years, the maximum prison term is not more than two years less a day and the minimum jail term is 6 months.
- If the crown elects by indictment, the offender can face up to 10 years in prison. If the complainant is under the age of 16 years, the maximum prison term is 14 years and the minimum jail term is one year.
- If a weapon is used during the sexual assault or a third party is threatened or if the assault resulted in bodily harm, the accused can face up to 14 years in prison.
- Aggravated assault is handled much more seriously and may carry a sentence of life in prison if convicted.
Experienced Sexual Assault Defence Lawyers Serving Ontario
Charges of sexual assault, especially those that are the result of unfounded accusations, present a myriad of challenges for several reasons. In the court of public opinion, you are found guilty before you step foot in a courtroom whether you are convicted or not.
The penalty for a conviction may include a lengthy prison term in addition to being forced to register as a sex offender. The repercussions of a conviction may include loss of employment, the disintegration of relationships, stigma in the community and permanent damage to your reputation.
It is vital that you contact a sexual assault defence lawyer in Ontario who has extensive experience and skill defending clients from these allegations. If you have been charged or arrested, do not wait.