Sexual Assault and Consent

[Disclaimer required: this is for informational purposes and should not be treated as legal advice]

When most people think about sexual assault, they tend to think “rape”. In Canada, there is a broad offence known as “Sexual Assault”. Under the umbrella of “Sexual Assault”, there are numerous actions that can establish the offence. Consent is a crucial factor in all cases of “Sexual Assault”. 

The Supreme Court of Canada has held that the act of “Sexual Assault” does not depend solely on contact with any specific part of the human anatomy but rather it is an act of a sexual nature that violates the sexual integrity of the victim. There are certain relevant factors that are considered: 

  • The part of the body touched

  • The nature of the contact

  • The situation in which the contact occurred

  • The words and gestures accompanying the act

  • All other circumstances surrounding the act

  • Any threats that may or may not be accompanied by force 

Is “Rape” a Criminal Offence?

There is no offence known as “rape” in the Criminal Code of Canada. Rather, the Criminal Code of Canada classifies these offences under the broad heading of “Sexual Assault”. 

Just like other “Assault” offences, there are different types of “Sexual Assault” that can occur based upon the circumstances surrounding the event. Examples: “Sexual Assault with a Weapon” and “Aggravated Sexual Assault”.  

Why Is Consent Important?

Consent is a crucial factor in cases of “Sexual Assault” because it goes to the heart of a person’s sexual integrity. When an individual freely consents to an act of a sexual nature, it establishes that the individual has made an informed decision regarding the act. In order words, they are agreeing to voluntarily participate in the specific sexual act. 

Can a Person Limit the Type of Consent They Give?

Consent can be limited. For example: if an individual agrees to hold hands with you, it does not follow that the individual is also consenting to other physical contact. 

Once Consent Is Given, Does It Have to Be Given Again?

There is a misconception that once consent is given, it need not be obtained again. Consent is not mutually binding. It must be given every time individuals engage in sexual acts. 

This is best described in the context of a married couple. Though there is regular physical contact between partner A and partner B, there may be an occasion where partner B does not wish to participate. If partner A attempts to force their way upon partner B, a “Sexual Assault” has been committed. 

Can Consent Be Taken Away After It Was Given?

Yes, a person has the right to change their mind. Even though they might initially consent to a sexual act, during the course of the act, if they say “stop” or indicate they no longer want to engage in the act, the other party must stop.

Do I Have to Get Consent If I Am Married or Cohabitating?

Consent is required in ALL relationships. Allegations of “Sexual Assault” between married couples often come before the courts. 

Please keep in mind the above information is for educational purposes and should not be used as actual legal advice. If you or someone you know has been charged with “Sexual Assault”, contact a criminal defence lawyer in Brampton not. Call the law offices of Passi & Patel now at (905) 459-0004 to arrange a free consultation. 

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