The crime of sexual assault encompasses a number of actions, ranging from unwanted touching to forced intercourse. The sentences that a judge can impose in a sexual assault case also vary, depending on the seriousness of the offence. Under the Criminal Code, sexual assault is taken seriously, and the law gives judges sentencing guidelines with minimum penalties for those found guilty.
Types of Sexual Assault and Minimum Sentences
The potential sentence you could receive if you are convicted of sexual assault depends on the seriousness of the crime. Examples include the following:
- Simple sexual assault. Sexual assault can be treated as either a summary offence or an indictable one by the Crown. If the Crown decides to proceed on a summary basis, the minimum punishment is six months in prison. A sexual assault charge carries a minimum sentence of one year in prison as an indictable offence.
- Sexual assault with a restricted firearm. If a restricted or prohibited weapon is used while committing the sexual assault, the offender will be imprisoned for a minimum of five years for a first offence. For a second or subsequent offence, they will be imprisoned for a minimum of seven years.
- Sexual assault with a firearm. If a firearm is used while committing a sexual assault, the offender will be imprisoned for a minimum of four years. This minimum sentence is increased to five years if the complainant is under 16 years of age.
- Aggravated sexual assault. An aggravated sexual assault occurs when the complainant is wounded, maimed, disfigured or has their life endangered during the attack. The offender's minimum sentence is imprisonment for five years for a first offence and seven years for a second or subsequent offence.
Mitigating Factors in a Sexual Assault Case
If the accused has never been charged with a crime before, they may receive a reduced sentence. An offender who pleads guilty may also receive a reduced sentence since it saves the court the time and expense of a full trial. The judge may also conclude that a guilty plea indicates remorse.
Aggravating Factors in a Sexual Assault Case
If certain factors are present in a sexual assault, a judge could increase the minimum sentence at their discretion. Examples of aggravating factors include:
- The victim's age may be an aggravating factor if they are a minor. The court may impose a more severe sentence if the victim is underage.
- In a case where the victim is vulnerable due to a physical or mental disability, the court may impose a stricter sentence than if the victim is considered able to care for themselves independently. An offender who is in a position of authority over the victim may also expect a harsher sentence.
- When violence is used during a sexual assault, the penalty will likely increase. If the force involved leads to permanent injuries, the court will impose the strictest penalty available.
The judge will also consider the likelihood that the offender will re-offend. If the offender has a previous conviction for sexual assault or a sexually related offence, the sentence will be harsher than for a first offender.
Why You Need a Sexual Assault Lawyer to Defend You
If you are charged with sexual assault in London, Toronto, Brampton, or elsewhere in Ontario, it's crucial that you seek advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer. Your sexual assault lawyer will consider all the evidence against you, including the relationship between you and the complainant, any witness statements, and DNA evidence, and will build a case to secure the best possible outcome for you.
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 and livelihood. Contact us today at 1-800-699-0806 to arrange your free case review.