A recent article in The Globe and Mail reviewed studies that found that between 2013 and 2017, there was an increase in sexual assaults on public transit. The article highlights stories from women who were subjected to targeted masturbation, up-skirt photos, and physical, sexually-charged attacks.What is problematic is that the transit systems where all of these events occurred did not maintain records of the incidents. While police were notified in these cases, it seems that some interested parties are claiming that public transportation systems are turning a blind eye to sexual assault on their vehicles.Anytime a sexual assault occurs it will significantly impact everyone involved, especially if criminal charges are filed and the case is investigated.

What if I Accidentally Touch Someone on Public Transportation?

Frequency of Sexual Assault on Public TransitWe all know that, at times, buses are so crowded that only standing room is available and sometimes it is impossible to move through the bus without touching another person. However, accidentally brushing against someone – even in a sensitive area -does not reach the threshold of criminal culpability.

The mens rea of sexual assault is “intention to touch and knowing of, or being reckless of or willfully blind to, a lack of consent on the part of the person touched.” Mens rea is a latin legal term used to define the intention of an act or what a person was thinking in their own mind when they engaged in a specific activity.

Some factors that can be considered in determining whether or not the alleged sexual assault is accidental or purposeful are when and where the incident occurred, if someone actually touched another person and what the nature of that touch was, and if there is any existing relationship between the parties involved.  The difficulty is that an accidental touching in a crowded environment such as public transport or a bar can sometimes be misinterpreted by the person who was touched.

Should I Talk to the Police About What Happened?

If you are the focus of a criminal investigation, then you should not talk with law enforcement officers or investigators.  Assuming you are under investigation and the police ask you to attend the police station for an interview or you have been placed under arrest, you should immediately call an experienced criminal lawyer who will advise you regarding your right to remain silent. If you are detained or arrested by the police, under section 10(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms you have the right to speak to a lawyer to receive legal advice without delay.  In this situation, you should ask to speak to a lawyer right away.  If you do not know the name of lawyer, ask the police look at their phone list of local criminal lawyers or ask to call duty counsel.     It might seem natural for you to want to fill in details about an accident that occurred on crowded public transit, but a lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected during any period of questioning. In this regard, please review our Kruse Law Firm videos which provide valuable information on defending yourself against a sexual assault charge.

The consequences of being charged with a sexual assault are devastating and lasting. Just being arrested for a sexual crime could lead to spending hours in jail before you are released on bail and added stress on you and your family. Also, a person who has a prior criminal record may wind up being held in jail without bail pending their trial or guilty plea. If you are convicted of a sexual assault, you may be sentenced to months or years in jail depending on the severity of the assault.   The media can report any arrests and will often report crimes involving alleged sexual misconduct and publish the name of the alleged offender.

Being convicted of a sexual assault can negatively impact your entire life from your present and future employability to your personal relationships.  Even if there is a misunderstanding or simple explanation for a specific event, it is best to talk with a lawyer before you talk with any police officer or investigator.  A good criminal lawyer will generally advise you never to talk to the police if you are under investigation or have been placed under arrest for any type of crime, including an alleged sexual assault.

Contact a Lawyer

The professionals at the Kruse Law Firm have successfully defended countless sexual assault charges for over 30 years and can provide more information on the mens rea required to be proven by the crown.  Having an experienced criminal lawyer on your side that understands the law and aims to protect your rights is the most beneficial asset when defending any alleged crime.  Accidents can happen in crowded public places, and public transportation is certainly a prime example. We are ready to discuss the facts of your case, contact us today.

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