Sexual Assault Lawyers

What You Need to Know

The sexual assault laws in Canada are far reaching, severe and can have permanent damaging affects on you and your family. Sex crimes cover a wide range of activities from groping, stalking, voyeurism and harassment, to more serious allegations of forced sex, exploitation, sodomy, child sexual abuse, or gang rape.

How you handle yourself and your interaction with police at the initial stages of a sexual assault investigation will largely affect your case down the road. The temptation to tell authorities “your side of the story” - for example by trying to argue evidence of consent, can be difficult to resist. However, speaking to authorities may have unseen and unanticipated consequences.

Do not do anything before seeking the advice of an experienced criminal lawyer. Our legal team will provide you with full and frank advice about how to proceed, and about how to best protect yourself and your reputation moving forward through this difficult time.

Legal Terms and Definitions

The Canadian Criminal Code includes the following as typical offences:

Sexual Assault:  a physical confrontation between you and another person that was for a sexual purpose. Sexual assault can range from something as minor as grabbing or groping to anything as serious as forced intercourse. 

Sexual Interference with a minor: a sexual interaction with a person under the age of 16 years old. This is sometimes referred to as “statutory rape” because of the fact that the law does not consider whether the sexual contact was consensual or not. The criminal act is made out by virtue of the fact that the complainant, or victim, is under the age of 16 years old. Includes minimum sentences of 90 days if proceeded summarily and one year if proceeded by indictment.

Sexual exploitation: a sexual interaction with a person who holds you in a position of trust. The complainant or victim for these types of offences may be older than 16 years old.  Includes minimum sentences of 90 days if proceeded summarily and one year if proceeded by indictment

Voyeurism: observing or recording someone for a sexual purpose where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Implications

The stigma and defamation of character that is associated with sexual assault convictions can be far reaching and long lasting. If convicted of a sexual assault or related offence you may be at risk of going to prison and will be placed on a SOIRA order, which is a National Sex Offender Information Registry. For the rest of your life you will be labeled in the system as a sex offender in the community. You may lose rights to be with your family and have restraining orders placed on your contact with them. Child Protection Services may get involved if your charges involve sex with a minor or incest.

Recent changes to the Criminal Code have also made mandatory prison sentences for several types of sexual offences, especially those that involved a minor. This means that even minor allegations could result in prison time. 
A Sexual assault charge can be laid with relatively little evidence. Often charges of sexual assault are laid based solely on the allegations of a single person without corroborating evidence or other witnesses. 

 

How We Can Help

Our criminal lawyers are extremely qualified to handle rape cases. Here are several strategies we will employ to ensure your best possible outcome:

Trial: Taking your matter to trial means having the Crown Prosecutor prove beyond a reasonable doubt your guilt. Sexual assault cases are complex and involve many variables. More often than not there will be evidentiary and legal issues at trial that will give rise to a defence. The charges against you can be challenged in a number of ways:

Challenging the facts: Sexual assault cases are often a credibility contest of ‘He said vs. she said’. Achieving a not guilty verdict in such a case rests heavily with your lawyer’s ability to effectively cross examine the complainant and any independent witnesses who might seek to implicate you. Not every cross-examination is an effective – our criminal lawyers have years of courtroom experience to be effective advocates for your credibility.  

Navigating Special Evidentiary Rules: Although, as stated above, sexual assault are largely credibility contests, they are not ONLY credibility contests.  In recent years many amendments to the Criminal Code have made it more difficult to challenge credibility.  “Rape shield” type laws and statutory limits on being able to challenge a complainant on his or her sexual history have watered down the adversarial system.  A successful defence to a sexual assault allegation must navigate these waters carefully and with deftness. 

Interpreting the law in your favour: We argue the law and precedent cases in a way which is most favorable to your specific case and fact scenario. This is achieved through careful and diligent legal research and application, which only comes with years of legal experience.
 
Violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms Talking to the police, giving statements, providing any kind of self-incriminatory evidence can be detrimental to the outcome of your case. (When faced with the option of speaking to police or remaining silent, its always better to remain silent) However after the fact, our sexual assault lawyers can apply to have this initial evidence excluded by way of an application made under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We understand the typical violations to your Charter Rights. For example, police may search your car without permission, or not give you the option to call a lawyer. These violations are arguable in the courts in your defence.

Sentence: In some cases, the best course of legal action may be to reduce the damage that may be done to you. Not all cases are defensible or result in acquittals. In these circumstances you will benefit from an experienced lawyer who can help keep your sentence as lenient as possible. This could include any number of possibilities:

Avoiding a Criminal Record: In the least serious sexual assault cases it may be possible to argue for an absolute or conditional discharge if you are convicted. This means that it may be possible to avoid the imposition of a conviction on your criminal record despite the fact that you were found guilty.

Avoiding jail time: Where jail is a possibility our lawyers will paint the best picture possible of your personal circumstances in an effort to avoid the possibility of incarceration. Often this will mean you will received a fine or a period of probation.

Reducing jail time:  In those circumstances where jail is unavoidable the goal will be to keep any potential jail sentence as low as possible to ensure that your freedoms is effected as minimally as possible.

 

Call us. We can help.

If you have been charged as a sexual offender, accused of rape or have been caught sexually involved with a minor, it’s important to speak with a criminal lawyer immediately. Our team in Calgary will work to understand your case and build your defense strategy.

Latest News Of Sexual Assault Lawyers

September 2014
    In this edition of Vocal Point: Fred Rayner , Rayner Consulting;  Greg Dunn , defence lawyer; and  Jason van Rassel , Calgary Herald.
May 2009
CALGARY - The lawyer for a man dubbed the Beltline Rapist argued Wednesday his conviction should be overturned because illegal trickery was used to obtain key evidence. Wafid Delaa's DNA was used to link him to the rapes of two young women in the inner-city neighbourhood more than five years ago. Undercover police obtained the DNA by setting up a fake chewing gum taste test at a gas station parking lot in April 2004. Delaa took the test and was urged not to toss... more