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SEXUAL ASSAULT/ RAPE

Sexual Assault Charges in Edmonton – Including Rape

Sexual assault is a very serious crime. It is assault where there is a sexual component to it. The offense involves the use of force to coerce a person to perform a sexual activity. The term ‘rape’ is often used in conjunction with sexual assault, even though that term does not actually appear anywhere in the Criminal Code of Canada. The main factor in a case of sexual assault is that the act was performed without the consent of the victim.

With sexual assault charges the Crown has the option to proceed summarily, or by more serous procedure of indictment.

Defining Sexual Assault

According to definition, sexual assault occurs when any sexual act is performed without the ‘consent’ of the victim. Consent is defined in the Criminal Code as being the “voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question” and issues of consent can get complicated, both factually and legally.

The Importance of Consent

In many cases of sexual assault, there is contention over whether or not consent was actually given. There are special rules regarding consent. To be freed of a sexual assault charge, the accused needs to prove that they had the consent of the victim as consent is set out in the Criminal Code and as defined by case law.

In some cases, such as where the victim had explicitly refused or resisted the advances of the accused, the issue of consent is quite obvious. But in other cases it can be less obvious, such as where alcohol is involved and there can be a question as to the ability or validity of the consent supposedly given.

The Supreme Court of Canada made it clear in the Ewanchuck case (1999) 22 C.R. (5th) 1 (S.C.C.) that at least in sexual assault cases, whether the complainant consented was to be tested subjectively.  The Court also stated that there is no defence of implied consent to sexual assault in Canadian law.

Consent has been dealt with in Canadian law in Bill C-49 and the whole “no means no” debate.  There are specific provisions in the Criminal Code that deal with consent in the context of sexual assault charges.

Even if consent appears to have been obtained, the circumstances of the case can still be analyzed to see whether the consent was coerced from the victim. In certain situations, the victim is not in a position to give consent, such as being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Moreover, there are special considerations depending on the ages of the parties. Special rules apply for younger people, such as 14 years old and 16 years old.

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Penalties and Charges

The penalties for sexual assault vary according to the offense and the facts of each case, but can range as high as life imprisonment depending on the circumstances. If the act of sexual assault involved the use of a weapon or if there were threats or physical injuries to the accused can be aggravating factors.

False Accusations

The criminal law generally requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a high standard. The issue of false accusations arises from time to time but it must be remembered that most victims get little satisfaction from the court process even if charges are proceeded with. Just because there is a finding of “not guilty” does not necessarily mean that there have been false accusations. It used to be that corroboration was required for some sexual assault charges, but these rules have changed in recent years. There is a good deal of pressure and responsibility on the part of investigating officers in sexual assault cases, especially where there are serious differences as to “what happened” between the complainant and the victim. Sexual assault cases are complex, technical and extremely emotional.

Having a sexual assault conviction on your record is to be avoided if at all possible. It can really affect a person’s ability to obtain or maintain employment, get into the USA and other countries and really harm a person’s reputation. Geoff understands the humiliation that comes with being charged with sexual assault and can help you deal with the whole process. The law considers you innocent until proven guilty. Make sure your rights are protected. Call Geoff today – he can help you.

Geoff Green – Criminal Defence Lawyer For Alberta

Sexual Assault Lawyer Guilty Not Guilty

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