Sexual Assault & Sex Crimes
Being charged with a sexual offence must be taken very seriously. The stigma of being charged with such an offence can severely damage a person’s reputation.
In Canada, a sexual assault is defined as an assault which is committed in the circumstances of a sexual nature such that the sexual integrity of the victim is violated. In order to determine whether an assault is sexual in nature, the court look will look at various elements including but not limited to, the part of the body being touched, the nature of the contact, the situation in which it occurred, the words and gesture accompanying the act, and all other circumstances surrounding the conduct, including the motives of the accused person.
Criminal Code of Canada – Definition of ‘sexual assault’
Section 265 of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines the offences of assault and sexual assault as follows:
A person commits an “assault” when:
(a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;
(b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or
(c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.
(2) This section applies to all forms of assault, including sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm and aggravated sexual assault:
(a) obtained where the complainant submits or does not resist by reason of the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant;
(b) threats or fear of the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant;
(c) fraud; or
(d) the exercise of authority.
(3) Where the accused alleges that he believed that the complainant consented to the conduct that is the subject matter of the charge, a judge, if satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and that, if believed by the jury, the evidence would constitute a defence, shall instruct the jury when reviewing all the evidence relating to the determination of the honesty of the accused’s belief, to consider the presence or absence of reasonable grounds for that belief.
What other sexual offences are in the Criminal Code of Canada?
The Criminal Code of Canada also sets out other sexual offences, they are as follows:
- Child Pornography: It is against the law to make, distribute, possess, or access child pornography. Child pornography has a broad definition, but it includes (among other things) video or photographic representations of a person under age 18 engaged in explicit sexual activity, and videos or photographs that have the dominant characteristic of depicting, for a sexual purpose, the sexual organ or anal region of a person under age 18. (Criminal Code section 163.1)
- Indecent Acts: It is against the law to perform an “indecent act” in a public place in the presence of another person. Sex acts, such as masturbation, can fall under the definition of an “indecent act.” It is also against the law to expose your genitals to a person under age 16 for a sexual purpose. (Criminal Code section 173)
- Incest and Bestiality: It is against the law to have sexual intercourse with someone who you know is, by a blood relationship, your parent, child, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, grandparent, or grandchild. It is also against the law to have sex with an animal. (Criminal Code sections 155 and 160)
- Luring: It is against the law to use a computer system to communicate with a person who is under 18 years old for the purpose of facilitating certain sexual offences. This offence criminalizes using the Internet to communicate with under-age persons for the purpose of engaging in what would be illegal sex acts, e.g., using the Internet to ask a person under the legal age of consent to meet to have sex. (Criminal Code section 172.1)
- Sexual Interference & Invitation to Sexual Touching: The offence of sexual interference makes it a criminal offence to touch a person under age 16 for a sexual purpose, with either your body or an object. The offence of invitation to sexual touching makes it a criminal offence to encourage someone under age 16 to touch another person’s body for a sexual purpose, with either the young person’s body or an object. (Criminal Code sections 151 and 152)
- Sexual Exploitation of a Minor or a Person with a Disability: If a person is under age 18, it is against the law for another person to have (or encourage) certain kinds of sexual contact with that person when (a) the other person is in a position of trust or authority, (b) the person is in a relationship of dependency, or (c) the relationship is exploitative. Likewise, if a person is in a position of trust or authority towards someone with a physical or mental disability, or if the person with a disability is in a relationship of dependency with the other person, there are circumstances where it is against the law to encourage the person with a disability to have sexual contact without their consent. (Criminal Code sections 153 and 153.1)
- Voyeurism: In certain circumstances where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, it is against the law to surreptitiously observe or record that person, either in person, or with an electronic device such as a video camera. Some (but not all) of the circumstances where this hidden or clandestine recording will be against the law include: (a) where the person being recorded is reasonably expected to be nude or engaged in sexual activity, or (b) where the observation or recording is made for a sexual purpose. (Criminal Code section 162)
Sexual Assault – Sentences & Punishments
A person found guilty of sexual assault can be subject to a broad range sentences, from no time in jail to a maximum of 18 months or 10 years depending on whether or not the crown proceeds on the sexual assault by “summary conviction” or whether they proceed by “indictment”. How a crown chooses to proceed is entirely within their discretion. Each case must be considered on its own facts to assess the appropriate punishment.
In addition to serving a sentence, an individual found guilty of a sexual assault will face the stigma of being placed on a provincial and national sex offender’s registry and as a consequence be subjected to strict supervision by the police for an indefinite period.
Why should you hire Passi & Patel if you've been charged with sexual assault?
At Passi & Patel, Brampton's Criminal Law Firm, our sexual assault lawyers have extensive experience in charges of this nature. The consequences of being found guilty of a sexual offence are long-lasting, if not permanent. Call our office now to speak to an experienced Brampton criminal lawyer at 905-459-0004 to allow us to explain how we can be of assistance. We travel throughout Ontario to defend our clients charged with sexual offences.