In cases of sexual assault, the likelihood of going to trial and the potential jail term can vary widely depending on the specific details of the case.  A large percentage of accused who are charged with sexual assault in Ontario choose to proceed to trial due to the devastating effects of a conviction. 

Range of Sexual Assault Offenses

  • Serious Offences include date rape scenarios where force is used despite the victim’s lack of consent. In such cases, a guilty plea could result in a jail term ranging from two to three years or more, depending on factors like aggravating or mitigating circumstances, the offender’s age, and background. The range of sentence for serious date rape cases seems to be constantly expanding in Ontario and throughout Canada.  Sentences of over 3 years are possible, even when no bodily harm is caused. 
  • Less Serious Offences such as inappropriate touching or groping, will usually lead to jail time, but the severity could vary. For  very minor or less aggravated sexual assaults such as briefly grabbing a woman’s buttocks in a bar, it might be possible to avoid a jail term.   However, this is subject to negotiation and case specifics. It should be stressed that for most sexual assaults beyond this minor example, the accused will be facing a significant jail term measured in months to years, depending on the facts of a given case. 


Factors Influencing Sentencing

  • Nature of the Offence: The severity of the sexual assault offence, ranging from minor touching incidents to more serious crimes, greatly influences the potential jail term.
  • Victim’s Age: Offences involving minors, such as indecent acts or sexual assaults, carry serious mandatory minimums and substantial jail time. For example, a rape involving a  minor will result in many years in the penitentiary, and is considered to be far more serious than a date rape scenario involving an adult victim. 
  • Negotiation Possibilities: Negotiation with legal representation may play a crucial role, especially in cases of less severe offences, to potentially avoid or at least reduce a jail term to a more reasonable level. 


Wide Spectrum of Cases

  • No jail to multiple years in jail:  The range of sentence in sexual assault cases spans from potentially avoiding jail in very minor cases, to facing multiple years or even a decade or more in jail for more serious/aggravated cases. 
  • Heinous/stark horror offences: Offenses involving sexual assault on minors are highlighted as particularly heinous, carrying significant jail time.   


Case-Specific Considerations

  • Individual Circumstances: Each case is unique, and factors such as the specific details of the offence, the defendant’s background, and negotiation strategies can influence the outcome.
  • Legal Representation: Consulting with experienced legal professionals becomes crucial to navigate the complexities of sexual assault cases in order to build a robust defence,  or obtain the best possible outcome.


The frequency of sexual assault cases going to trial and the potential for a jail term depends on the specific details of each case. Many accused who are charged with sexual assault decide to proceed to trial  because they  are facing years in jail,  negative repercussions,  and stigma in their community  which last a lifetime if they plead guilty.  Top level legal representation, negotiation skills, and the severity of the offence all play important roles in determining outcomes. Individuals facing such charges are advised to seek guidance from experienced legal professionals to understand their specific situation and explore appropriate defence strategies.


Video Transcription:

Our firm represents many clients who are charged with sexual assault and one of the first questions they are going to ask is “if I’m found guilty or I plead guilty will I be going to jail?” Now sexual assault can be comprised of a range of activity from perhaps inappropriately grabbing a woman’s buttocks in a bar right up to a very serious rape or rape endangering life.For the vast, vast majority of sexual assaults you are absolutely facing a jail term and a very significant jail term and let me give you an example. Let’s say you are charged with a date rape where you go on a date and at the end of the night the woman says no and you force her and there is no injuries but she didn’t consent and was saying no and you went ahead and raped this woman and you decide to plead guilty to that. In that particular situation the range in Ontario tends to be two to three years in jail depending on the aggravating and mitigating factors. Your age that sort of thing. Your background and the actual nature of the offence but you are clearly facing a jail term in that range depending on the facts and your background.

Now let’s take a much less serious matter. There might be sexual assault where you did touching and groping of a woman you are more likely facing many months in jail as an example. Getting back to my example of the bar, that’s a touchy situation in the sense that you know you’ve grabbed this woman’s buttocks it’s totally inappropriate. You might be able to avoid a jail term in that situation. Maybe. Maybe not. That is certainly on the lesser end of the scale and it’s a situation where we have avoided a jail term on many occasions.

So it’s a wide range. I mean sexually assaulting a minor is really serious. You are facing multiple, multiple years in jail. Indecent acts and sexual assaults in minors and invitation to sexual touching there is serious mandatory minimums. There is serious jail time. So the bottom line is a real spectrum. A spectrum from no jail potentially on a very low end assault. Maybe a breast grab in the bar. Touchy situation too but it’s got to be negotiated. Right up until the other end where you could be facing 10 years in jail. For example sexually assaulting young people inappropriately which is considered a very heinous offence. They’re all considered heinous offences obviously but there’s lesser aggravated facts and more serious facts.

So that’s the short answer to “am I facing a jail term for sexual assault?”

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