To combat the prevalence of sexual assault in Canada, the Criminal Code has a wide definition of sexual assault that goes well beyond rape. It encompasses unwelcome sexual acts such as kissing, fondling, digital penetration, oral sex, or touching someone in a sexual manner.
Without question, you can be charged with sexual assault even if there is no evidence other than the word of the alleged victim. However, whether you will be able to successfully defend a sexual assault charge will greatly depend on whom you hire to provide legal representation. Your best chance for success is choosing an experienced sexual assault defense lawyer in Ontario.
In the most ideal of circumstances, winning a case of sexual assault is challenging, to say the least. Granted, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but police, judges, prosecutors, the general public and the media almost always take the side of the alleged victim before one shred of evidence is presented. This is particularly true if the alleged victim is young and attractive.
As a whole, Canada is tough on those who are accused of sexual assault. If convicted of a serious sexual assault such as rape, an individual can go to prison for many years. For even a minor sexual assault conviction, a person will usually face a jail term and they will be required to register with the National Sex Offender Registry (“NSOR”).
The NSOR is a Canada-wide registration system that is mandatory for anyone who has been convicted of selected offences. Registration also means that the offender, as ordered by the court, must report to the police every year.
The NSOR is a product of the Sex Offender Information Registration Act which was created in 2004.
Once the offender’s information is entered into the database, it is accessible to every accredited police agency in Canada. The public does not have access to information in the registry.
In 2016 new legislation was introduced that increased the number of reporting obligations and mandatory requirements for those on the NSOR who want to travel outside of the country.
Once logged into the database, law enforcement officials have access to an offender’s:
- Birth date
- Current and former addresses
- Current and former mugshots
- Identifying features such as scars or tattoos
- Vehicle registration
- Address and type of employment
- Crime for which he or she was convicted
- Driver’s license
Sexual Assault Defence Lawyers in Ontario
Only when both parties consent is any sexual activity considered legal. The Criminal Code sets out the meaning of consent in section 273.1 (1). It states consent is the voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question. The law concentrates on what a person was subjectively and genuinely feeling and thinking at the time he or she is engaged in a sexual act. Consent is positively given through conduct or words. Because fear or intimidation could be used during sexual assault, passivity or silence does not equal consent.
The best time to hire a sexual assault defence lawyer is the moment you find yourself facing potential charges. Acquiring representation at the beginning of the legal process is vital in obtaining the most favorable result. You should strongly consider hiring defense counsel before you are questioned by police.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with sexual assault in Ontario, schedule a free consultation or call +1-800-699-0806 to speak with one of our lawyers today. Also, feel free to send an email to [email protected].