Sexual Assault and Criminal Sexual Offences

Being charged with sexual assault or other sex crimes can severely damage a person’s reputation. Society and the Criminal Code of Canada regard criminal sexual offences as very serious crimes, which should never be taken lightly.

In Canada, one of the more common sex crimes is sexual assault. It is an assault against another involving circumstances of a sexual nature without their consent. It is one of the more serious assault offences since not only is the victim sexually violated, but also there is some force or threat of force used against them, which they did not consent to either. In order to determine whether a person should be charged with sexual assault the police and Crown will look at several elements and evidence in the case, such as

  • The part of the body that was touched.
  • How the body was touched and nature of the contact.
  • The situation in which the victim was assaulted.
  • Any gestures or words used in conjunction with the act.
  • Any other relevant circumstances relating to the act.

It is important to note in order to be charged with sexual assault, one does not have to physically engage in sexual intercourse with the other person. You can be charged for this crime if you used your hands or other parts of your body, as well as objects in a sexual manner where the victim did not consent to the act. The police and Crown will consider and weigh everything which occurred, as well as the motives of the accused person in determining whether there are grounds for filing sexual assault charges against the accused.

Sexual Assault as Defined by the Criminal Code of Canada

The criminal offences of assault and sexual assault are defined in Section 265 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The crimes are summarized below, as follows:

1. Assault is committed when:

  • Without the consent of another person, the accused intentionally applies force, either directly or indirectly, against the individual.
  • The accused threatens or attempts to apply force to the victim, by act or gesture. The accused has, or causes the victim to believe, on reasonable grounds that the accused presently has the ability to affect their purpose.
  • Or, while openly carrying or wearing a weapon or imitation weapon, the accused accosts or impedes the victim or begs.

2. This section of the Criminal Code of Canada applies to all forms of assault, including sexual assault with a weapon, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and sexual assault causing bodily harm, as well as threats to cause bodily harm while committing sexual assault.

  • The accused obtained, where the victim submitted or did not resist, by reason of the application of force to them, or to a person other than the victim.
  • There were threats of force or the fear that force was going to be used either against the victim or to another person.
  • The accused fraudulently misled the victim.
  • Or the accused exercised their authority over the victim.

3. Where the accused alleges they believed the victim consented to the act, as related to the criminal assault offence, a judge, if satisfied there is sufficient evidence to bring charges, and if the defence could be believed by the jury, the judge can instruct the jury when reviewing the evidence in the case, relating to the determination of the honesty of the accused statement and belief of consent, to either consider the absence or presence of reasonable grounds for that belief.

Sentences and Punishments for Sexual Assault

The severity of being found guilty of sexual assault can drastically impact a person’s life. All persons found guilty of sexual assault, as well as other criminal sexual offences, are required by law to be placed on the national and provincial sex offender’s registry and be subject to supervision by the police indefinitely. In addition, being on the registry can impact the ability to find and maintain employment, could have travel restriction, and could have restrictions on where a person may reside.

Besides the stigma of being on the sex offender’s registry, being convicted of sexual assault has other sentencing guidelines and penalties. These penalties are determined by how the Crown decides to proceed with the case, either by summary conviction or indictment. As a result, there is potential imprisonment periods for sexual assault ranging from a maximum of eighteen months to ten years. How the Crown chooses to proceed in filing charges is entirely at their discretion. The Crown considers each case on its own facts to assess how to prosecute the case and what punishments the judge could impose during sentencing.

Other Criminal Sexual Offences Contained in the Criminal Code of Canada

Sexual assault is not the only type of sexual offence contained in the Criminal Code of Canada. Other sex crimes one could be charged with include:

Sections 151 and 152: Sexual Interference and Invitation to Sexual Touching

Sexual interference is the touching of a person under the age of 16, with either your body or an object, for a sexual purpose. An invitation to sexual touching is encouraging someone under the age of 16 to touch another person’s body, with either the young person’s body or object, for a sexual purpose.

Sections 153 and 153.1: Sexual Exploitation of a Minor or a Person with a Disability

Sexual exploitation of a minor is where a person has or encourages certain kinds of sexual contact with a person, who is under the age of 18, when:

  • The person is in a position of authority or trust.
  • The minor is in a relationship of dependency.
  • Or the relationship is exploitative.

Additionally, if a person is in a place of authority or trust towards another with a mental or physical disability, or if the person with the disability is in a dependency relationship with the accused, then there are circumstances where it is considered sexual exploitation of a person with a disability, if the accused encourages the disabled person to engage in sexual contact without their consent.

Sections 155 and 160: Incest and Bestiality

Incest is a criminal sexual offence where the accused has sexual intercourse with someone, who is known to be a blood relation by the person, including their parent, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, grandparent, child, or grandchild. Bestiality is engaging in sexual intercourse with an animal.

Section 162: Voyeurism

Voyeurism is surreptitiously observing or recording another person, either with a recording device, like a video camera, or in person, where the person being observed or recorded has a reasonable expectation to privacy, and is unaware they are being observed or recorded. Some of the circumstances, but not necessary all, where the clandestine or hidden observation or recording is against the law, includes:

  • Where the observing or recording of another is for a sexual purpose.
  • Where the person being observed or recorded is reasonably expected to engage in sexual activity or be nude.

Section 163.1: Child Pornography

Child pornography includes a broad range of sex crimes, and includes, among other things:

  • Photographic or video representations of a person under the age of 18 engaging in explicit sexual activities.
  • Photographic or video representations with a dominant characteristic of depicting the anal region or sexual organ of a person under the age of 18, for a sexual purpose.

Further, it is against the law to distribute, make, access, or possess child pornography.

Section 172. 1: Luring

Luring is using a computer system and the Internet to facilitate communications with a person under the age of 18 for the purpose of committing certain criminal sexual offences. The offence makes it illegal to engage in conversations over the Internet to encourage the person under the age of 18 to engage in sexual acts, such as asking the person under the legal age to meet and consent to having sex.

Section 173: Indecent Acts

Indecent acts are sexual offences, often committed in public places and in the presence of another person. It is a crime for a person to expose their genitals to a person under the age of 16 with a sexual purpose. Other sexual acts, like masturbation, can be considered an indecent act if committed in a public place in presence of another or in the presence of a person under the age of 16.

Why You Need to Retain Passi & Patel to Defend You against Sexual Offence Charges

The consequences of being found guilty of sexual assault and other sexual offences are long lasting and sometime permanent. At Mississauga’s criminal law firm, Passi & Patel, our sexual offence and sexual assault lawyers have extensive experience with this area of law and charges of a sexual nature. Contact our office today by calling 647-898-8018 to speak to an experienced Mississauga criminal defence lawyer. We offer a free, complimentary, in-depth case evaluation and consultation appointment. Let us explain how we can be of assistance in defending sexual offence charges brought against you, a loved one, or a friend. Our Mississauga criminal lawyers travel throughout Ontario to defend our clients, who have been charged with sexual offences.