Sexual assault includes a broad category of offences, ranging from the less serious allegations of non-consensual kissing, caressing, and touching of genitals to the most serious, non-consensual intercourse. You are entitled to a defence and an opportunity to clear your name. Many sexual assault allegations arise from ambiguous circumstances, where consent, the key to defending sexual assault charges, may or may not have been given or understood.
Accusations of sexual assault against a stranger are very different from those arising out of complicated relationships with former spouses, partners, colleagues, or even friends. Sexual assault in the workplace adds another layer of complexity to any prosecution or defence. Prosecution for sexual assault carries an enormous stigma, and upon conviction, your name goes into the Sexual Offender’s Information Registry.
You should never speak with police or prosecutors upon arrest or try to represent yourself. You need a skilled and experienced criminal defence lawyer who can navigate the complexities of criminal prosecution from beginning to end, including your arrest, bail hearing, disclosure review, negotiations with prosecutors and even trial, if necessary. The knowledgeable lawyers of Bulwark Law will aggressively defend your rights.
How Is Sexual Assault Defined in Calgary?
Sexual assault covers a broad range of behaviours but requires that the Crown prove:
- That there was touching of a sexual nature, such as kissing, hugging, groping,or touching of the buttocks or genitals
- That the touching was intentional and not inadvertent
- That the complainant did not consent to the sexual activity
- And that the defendant knew that the complainant did not consent to the sexual activity
Each element must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Factually proving these elements requires examining the circumstances of the interaction that led to these charges:
- Was there a preexisting relationship between the defendant and the complaining witness?
- What body part was touched?
- How was the body part touched? Was it using a weapon? Were threats, extortion, or manipulation?
- Were there any accompanying words or gestures, or other conduct, that further illustrates the state of mind of either the defendant or the complainant?
- What was the intent and state of mind of the defendant?
When sexual assault arises between people who know each other, the issue of consent is often the focus of both the prosecution and the defence. Consent means that the complainant voluntarily agreed to engage in any sexual acts. In Canada, the age of consent to sexual activity is 16. However, if the defendant is a doctor, coach, teacher, or family member, because they have authority over the complaining witness, the age of consent is 18. The tricky part comes in when there are drugs or alcohol involved. You cannot legally consent to sexual activity if you are asleep or unconscious. Nor is consent possible if there is force, the threat of force, or manipulation and extortion. However, consent can be given while intoxicated from alcohol or drugs or any combination of inebriants, although the communication of that consent might be ambiguous.
What Are the Consequences of a Sexual Assault Charge?
With sexual assault including many possible offences, the Crown can prosecute summarily or by indictment for more serious allegations. A summary conviction results in a prison sentence of not more than 18 months, or if the complainant is under the age of 16, to imprisonment for not more than two years less a day, with a minimum sentence of 6 months.
An indictable conviction, when the allegations of sexual assault are more serious, means a prison sentence of not more than ten years, or if the complainant is under the age of 16, imprisonment for not more than 14 years, with a minimum sentence of one year.
A conviction also means being permanently labelled a sex offender with your name going into the national Sexual Offender’s Information Registry. The stigma of such a conviction can affect your ability to work, your family relationships, and your ability to travel abroad, especially to the United States. If you are a permanent resident, a conviction can have an immediate impact on your immigration status. And with the pervasiveness of social media, any stigma can be intensified, causing severe physical, mental, and emotional distress.
How Can a Sexual Assault Lawyer Help You?
A skilled sexual assault lawyer will immediately advise you to remain silent so that you do not incriminate yourself. The goal is to protect your rights and begin the process of building a strong defence.
The first step is to obtain your release from jail prior to trial. In certain circumstances, even defendants facing sexual assault charges are entitled to reasonable bail. At Bulwark Law, we will rigorously advocate for your release so you can be with your family and help us to construct a viable defence.
Experienced sexual assault lawyers know that the police make mistakes. The knowledgeable attorneys of Bulwark Law can investigate the police to challenge their methods and determine whether they secured evidence and witness testimony in an appropriate and legal manner.
In addition, an experienced sexual assault lawyer can negotiate with prosecutors, develop a strategy, and prepare to go to trial if necessary. Prosecutors are more likely to consider withdrawal of charges or charging lesser offences when facing criminal defence lawyers with a record of success. Your future and your family’s future require rigorous defence from the beginning of any criminal prosecution. At Bulwark Law, we provide that defence.
Contact Bulwark Law Today
Criminal charges of sexual assault are treated very seriously by prosecutors. You need a law firm equally serious about protecting your rights, future, and freedom. Consider Bulwark Law. Our lawyers are compassionate and skilled, with a reputation among Calgary prosecutors and judges for fiercely representing our clients. We have a deep understanding of criminal law and procedure and use our knowledge to defend you. Call 403 678 7360 or contact us online to arrange your free initial consultation.