Some of the most devastating and serious charges that can be filed against a person are those involving sexual assault. Even false accusations can leave a stigma that can linger for the rest of your life. A report recently released by Statistics Canada shows that almost 15% of sexual assault cases were classified as unfounded.
In Ontario, a conviction of this nature will come with severe consequences that can include a long-term prison sentence, separation from your family, loss of employment, mandatory supervision upon release, and registration as a sex offender.
If you are faced with a charge of sexual assault or a sexually related crime, founded or unfounded, you need to work with an experienced sexual assault lawyer as quickly as possible. Your lawyer will inform you of the best course of action to protect yourself until the matter is resolved.
Do Not Talk to Police About the Charges
A common misconception is that talking to the police or working with the police will make your case easier or provide you with a lighter sentence. This is not true. The best tactic is to tell the police right at the beginning of your interaction with them and immediately upon arrest, that you want to speak to a lawyer. If you are under arrest or detention, the police must provide you with a phone call to a lawyer or a free-duty counsel to allow you to receive legal advice. When you talk to the lawyer, they will advise you to exercise your right to remain silent. In other words, a lawyer will tell you to say nothing to the police. Further, at the very start of your interaction with the police, you should ask the police if you are under arrest or detention and ask if you can leave. If you have not been placed under arrest or detention, you are free to leave and should do so immediately.
If the police are persistent and try to question you, firmly (yet politely) tell them you are exercising your right to remain silent. Your right to silence is protected under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and under Canadian common law.
You should immediately inform the police that you will not respond to any inquiries. The police will typically continue to talk and ask you questions. If you are under arrest, they may keep you in an interview room for many hours in an attempt to have you answer their questions and provide a statement. The best advice and course of action in this situation is to repeat the mantra every few minutes that you are exercising your right to remain silent and you will not say anything. Even if the allegation is unfounded and you are completely innocent, you may hurt your chances of winning your case, if you co-operate with the police and provide them with a statement. You do not want to inadvertently say something that can be used against you during a trial.
Contact a Skilled Criminal Defence Lawyer
There are other reasons for hiring a skilled criminal lawyer in addition to protecting your rights. Most sexual assault charges boil down to the word of the accuser versus the word of the accused. A good criminal lawyer will often be able to exploit inconsistencies and improbabilities in the complainant’s version of events and win your case. It is also important that you work with a lawyer to determine if there could be ulterior motives for the allegations. In order to successfully defend a sexual assault case, your lawyer will attempt to show that your accuser is not credible or reliable. There are many courtroom advocacy techniques designed to weaken a complainant’s credibility and reliability. Assuming it is necessary for you to testify at trial, a criminal lawyer will work with you for hours to prepare your testimony to be able to withstand cross-examination by an experienced crown attorney. Depending on the factual situation, your lawyer may also file various pre-trial applications to introduce or find evidence which may help you win your case such as a Seaboyer application or a third-party records application. Only a top criminal lawyer has the combination of knowledge, skill, and experience required to maximize the chances of winning your case at trial.
Also, an experienced criminal lawyer may be able to prove that evidence against you was obtained illegally or the prejudicial effect of the evidence is greater than its probative value. This proof means that you can have evidence excluded and not used against you at your trial.
Consent as a Defence
The most common defence against sexual assault allegations is consent. In the majority of sexual assault allegations, there are no physical injuries or corroborating witnesses. Often, alcohol or drugs are contributing factors to the case. In a situation of this nature, the accuser may have had lowered inhibitions and consented to the sexual activity in question. A drunken or drug-induced consent is still a consent unless the complainant was so incapacitated by alcohol or a drug that they did not have the ability to consent (for example, in the case of a falling down or a semi-comatose drunken person who does not know what they are doing). After regaining sobriety, he or she may have second thoughts or regrets or not remember the encounter accurately, even though they consented to the sexual activity. The accuser may claim to have been sexually assaulted when, in fact, the sex was consensual. Alternatively, the accuser may have had an “alcoholic blackout” where they provided consent in a relatively drunken condition, but still had the capacity to consent and does not remember providing their consent.
Our Toronto, Kitchener, London, and Windsor Criminal Defence Lawyers Will Work Hard to Try and Win Your Case
If you are charged with sexual assault or any sexually related crime, the experienced lawyers at Kruse Law understand the life-altering circumstances you face. In addition to facing serious jail time and registration as a sex offender, a conviction for a sexual crime will cause irreparable damage to your personal and professional relationships and stigma in the community. You worked hard to establish a great reputation and career. We can help you protect it.
To schedule a free consultation, click here or call one of our local offices or our toll-free number +1-800-699-0806. Our goal is to provide a legal strategy and defence that will either win your case or provide the best possible outcome in the circumstances. Contact us today.