We’re often asked by our clients; how can I be convicted? I’m charged with sexual assault. The only evidence is the word of the complainant of the alleged victim. How can I be convicted on a word alone? Well, there’s a very simple answer that. You can quite easily when you think about it. Most sexual assault prosecutions are really based on the victims or complainants where alone, they describe an event where they were sexually assaulted whether whatever degree that was a touching up to rape and all the more lesser aggravating up to aggravating facts in between. So there’s a whole stack of the cases and you can quite easily be convicted. That’s all it takes. The people are a little bit shocked about that. A person whether your man, men get sexually assaulted to let’s say it’s a man can simply go down to the police station and claim that someone’s sexually assaulted and then the police will take a statement and if they sound even half reasonable to the police. The police are going to have reasonable probable grounds and lay a charge. And could the person get convicted of that? Absolutely. It happens every day across Canada where that’s the only evidence one person’s word in the bedroom or you know, there’s only those two people they’re the only two people knew what happened. And the evidence is based on that. Now, the victim may have told a friend, but that’s not really evidence.
That’s just hearsay. And then the judge has to consider that as hearsay. I suppose if they came screaming and yelling out of the bedroom and people overheard that that’s a good narrative evidence that kind of supports what happened. But by and large, most cases involving sexual assault are between two people, and people get convicted every day on this on the other hand, that’s also the reason why with a good criminal lawyer, you have a decent chance of winning this type of case because it is the persons word against theirs. The burden of proof in Canada, a sexual assault matter has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Normally, in a sexual assault case, the accused needs to testify that’s with rare exceptions. I mean, after the crown calls the complainant and then defence counsel does such a good job of showing that they’re not credible and reliable. Well, in certain select cases, you might decide not to call your client but in most cases you do so you have the complainant or victims word about what happened versus the accused but it’s not it’s not an equal battle on the census. Not who does the judge more likely believe. It’s not a balance of probability type weighing what was the complainant more believable or is the accused, it’s not that at all.
The Crown has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the scales of justice are heavily weighted, yet prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the sexual assault in fact occurred. So, with that in mind, the judge is going to apply the WD tests or the jury they’re going to say look, if there’s, if I, if I, believe the evidence in the accused, I must acquit. So that’s the first step to it. The second step is if I’m left in a reasonable by the evidence accused, I must be acquitted. In other words. I don’t necessarily believe the accused but at least I have a reasonable doubt that’s an acquittal. And the third step and acquittals are secured and this all the time and the third step you look I completely reject the evidence. To the accused, but on all the other evidence. am I left with a reasonable doubt? that sometimes happens because the complainant maybe didn’t come across well or wasn’t quite reliable or credible? There’s a reasonable doubt. So, the bottom line about this and it shocks a lot of people you know, I can go down to the police station right now and claim that someone domestic assault goes down convincing and lie, I’d never do that of course and get some of it, it’s that easy, and people are shocked by that.
Everyone assumes everyone’s guilty, who’s ever charged but for those who actually understand how easy it is to get someone charged with a criminal offense, they understand why we have our safeguards in place. Yes, I’m sure. I don’t know what the statistics, I don’t know what they are, I’m sure 90, 95 99% of people are guilty who are charged with offence but what about the 1% whose not, it’s pretty easy to get a charge laid and it’s very easy to get a sexual assault charge any type of charge and that’s the bottom line and that’s what shocks a lot of people who are retained by us, how on earth can the police just lay up a domestic assault or sexual assault? Just because somebody showed up at the police station. There you have it. And that’s a good reason why you obviously need to hire a criminal lawyer for these types of offenses.