Under Canadian law, any crime committed forcibly or with the use of a weapon is subject to increased criminal penalties. In a sexual assault case, it’s irrelevant whether a defendant actually used the weapon in committing the offence. If you were carrying a weapon or threatened to use it, you could be charged with sexual assault with a weapon and face enhanced penalties.
What Could Be Considered a Weapon in Sexual Assault Cases?
Section 2 of the Criminal Code of Canada defines a weapon as something that could be used to cause death or injury to a person, intimidate a person, or threaten them with bodily harm. In addition to items designed as weapons (such as knives or guns), anything that a person uses or intends to use to cause harm can be considered a weapon, whether the item is designed as a weapon or not.
Items that could be classified as “weapons” include:
- A restricted firearm. Defendants who use a restricted firearm or prohibited firearm in a sexual assault may be ordered to serve up to 14 years in prison. There are mandatory minimum punishments of five years imprisonment for a first offence and seven years for a subsequent offence.
- A gun used to benefit a criminal organization. If a firearm is used to commit an offence that was ordered by, benefits, or is associated with a criminal organization, offenders may be sentenced to a maximum of 14 years and a minimum of five years in prison.
- A non-prohibited firearm. If an unrestricted firearm is used in the commission of the offence, a defendant may serve a minimum of four years and up to 14 years in prison.
- Sharp objects. Knives, broken bottles, screwdrivers, or anything that could stab or cut a victim will be treated as a weapon in a sexual assault case.
- Bludgeons. Heavy items such as bats, clubs, bricks, or even shoes might be considered weapons in some circumstances.
- Burning objects. Cigarettes, a pot of hot water, or anything that could scald or burn someone could be considered a weapon.
- Strangling weapons. Anything used to compress someone’s throat can be considered a weapon, such as a rope, chain, dog leash, or even your bare hands. While you may have technically been unarmed, using your hands to choke or suffocate an alleged victim during a sexual assault carries the same penalty as a weapons charge.
- A sex toy. A sex toy might be considered a weapon in forced penetration if it was used “without the consent of the victim in circumstances where an injury was reasonably foreseeable.”
How Is Sexual Assault With a Weapon Prosecuted?
Canadian law allows crimes to be charged as indictable offences or summary offences. Summary offences are less serious crimes that involve shorter prison sentences and smaller fines, while indictable offences are reserved for violent crimes with harsher punishments. Sexual assault with a weapon is always charged as an indictable offence.
One of the longest-lasting consequences of a sexual assault conviction is a lifelong criminal record. Sexual assault is considered a crime against society, and the law recognizes the public’s right to know if they are living near a dangerous sex offender. While the government can pardon many lesser crimes, your criminal record will be permanent.
In addition to the penalties above, a defendant could face:
- Imprisonment for life if the victim is under the age of 16
- A weapons prohibition order for ten years
- Mandatory sex offender registration for a minimum of 20 years
- Mandatory collection of your DNA to be held in the DNA Data Bank
Don’t Risk Your Future! A Criminal Defence Lawyer Can Help
The Crown prosecutor has the burden of establishing your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. You will need an experienced Ontario sexual assault lawyer to challenge the evidence and do everything possible to avoid conviction. At Kruse Law Firm, we fight aggressively to minimize the damage of a sexual assault accusation and get the most favourable outcome in your case. Contact us today at 800-699-0806 to arrange your free case review.