At Pender Litigation we deal with many kinds of clients. Some are uncertain about what has happened, particularly if they are young or inexperienced. Some are in positions of trust that may make them vulnerable to accusations of sexual misconduct.
We deal with a variety of charges, including:
- Sexual Assault: This includes any unwanted contact of a sexual nature, from touching to sexual intercourse, and may be accompanied by charges of domestic violence of violent crimes such as assault.
- Sexual Interference: This charge involves sexual contact with a person under 16.
- Sexual exploitation: Even being suspected of this offence may destroy your career, as it involves sexual misconduct with a minor or vulnerable adult over whom you exercise authority or a position of trust.
- Historical cases: On occasion we deal with cases in which the offence occurred many years in the past. The issues of evidence can be challenging.
- Cases dealing with psychological issues:We have connections to trusted professionals if you feel that your accuser needs help, or if you are charged with pedophilia, child pornography, voyeurism or other sensitive charges.
Our lawyers are experienced and flexible in our approach. We will work to exclude any evidence that should be inadmissible. We will provide the best advice we can, and will mount a determined effort to obtain the best possible outcome.
In any case, we will be honest with you about your chances and will lay out all the options. If you feel it would be best to try to resolve the situation, we will negotiate with the Crown on your behalf for a sentencing outcome that will protect you, your family and your future as much as possible.
Sexual assault is any unwanted physical contact with another person that has a sexual component. A very wide range of conduct falls into this, from touches that may have been misinterpreted to rape. It can include unwanted touching, kissing, hugging, or invitation to sexual touching.
The stigma surrounding sexual assault allegations, like allegations of any sex crimes, can affect your life in a way that most other charges don’t. Even being suspected of sexual assault, or accused of it and then found not guilty, can affect every aspect of your life.
Many clients of Pender Litigation come to us before they are charged, asking for advice and hoping to avoid a charge before it ever happens.
Some of the particular consequences include:
- Everyone convicted of a sexual assault has to register under the Sexual Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA) for a minimum of 10 years in summary conviction cases and 20 years in indictable cases
- There may be significant consequences for your employment
- There may be consequences in terms of where you can volunteer, especially if your charges include any child-related charges such as sexual interference or exploitation
- There could be media attention
- Any custody or visitation arrangements could be affected
- Travel may be restricted within the country and to other countries like the U.S.
Our Vancouver sexual assault lawyers will examine the circumstances of your arrest and all of the evidence against you, including whether the evidence against you was obtained in a manner that respected your Charter rights. This includes any statements you may have made to the police.
There may be any number of defences. You may have believed the allegedly unwanted sexual contact was consensual, or there may have been a reason for your alleged victim to be untruthful, such as a custody dispute.
Our lawyers are also familiar with media attention that can accompany sexual assault charges, and can answer your questions about the best ways to deal with it.
Sexual Assault FAQ
What is sexual assault?
Classified according to type (such as aggravated, weaponed or violent) and resulting damages, sexual assault under Canadian criminal law describes any intentional unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature, ranging from unwanted touching, kissing, or hugging to invasive violations.
What does “consent” mean as it relates to sexual assault?
Sexual activity is only legal when both parties consent. Consent is defined in section 273.1 of Canada’s Criminal Code as the voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question — making the act of the offence of sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact.
It is the responsibility of the person initiating or pursuing sexual activity to ensure consent. Consent cannot be implied. The complainant must agree to the specific sex act, and this consent can later be withdrawn by the complainant’s words or conduct.
What is the age of consent in Canada?
The age of consent to sexual activity in Canada is 16 years. There are close in age exceptions for 14 and 15 year olds and 12 and 13 year olds, who can consent to sexual activity with partners less than five and two years older, respectively. Age of consent laws apply to all forms of sexual activity, including kissing, touching and intercourse, and require there be no relationship of trust, authority or dependency between parties.
What are the penalties for sexual assault?
Penalties for sexual assault depend on the type (such as aggravated, weaponed or violent), manner and toll (physical or emotional) of the assault. In determining what sentence to seek, the Crown will assess the extent of the assaultive behaviour, outcome and previous and subsequent charges. For less severe sexual offences, like those involving the reasonable fear of sexual assault, you may alternately enter a peace bond.
Sexual interference involves touching for a sexual purpose any part of the body of a person who is under 16. Sexual touching of a child may be indirect, and may even involve only a relationship over the Internet. Depending on the seriousness of the offence, you could be liable to minimum sentencing, and imprisoned for up to 10 years.
As with any sexual offence, conviction may mean having to register in the Sex Offender Registry. In addition, you could lose your job, family and social connections, even if you are not convicted. Even an accusation of sexual interference can wreak havoc with your life. If your case is in the media, it can be even more devastating. The stigma is immense.
If you have been accused of sexual interference, or fear that you may be in the near future, it’s vital to get representation. You need to know what you’re facing, and be prepared to defend yourself.
Sexual exploitation involves allegations of sexual acts with someone who is under 18 where you are in a position of trust or authority over him or her — for example, as a parent, stepparent, teacher, or a coach. It can also involve sexual acts with a vulnerable adult over whom you have authority, such as a mentally disabled person who is your patient or student.
As with sexual interference, sexual exploitation can also involve a relationship in which there is no physical contact of a sexual nature, and involve other charges, such as production of child pornography or obscene material.
The court will consider many factors when determining guilt, including the age of the alleged victim, the age difference between you, the evolution of your relationship and the degree of influence you have over him or her.
If you are in authority over minors or disabled adults, you may be vulnerable to accusations of sexual exploitation. Even an accusation can ruin your life and career, as accusations are quickly believed out of a desire to protect vulnerable children and adults. If you suspect you may be charged, even if it’s just through rumours at your place of work, it’s vital to come and speak to us immediately.
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PLEASE NOTE: If this is an emergency or if you are in custody or been contacted by authorities then call our offices 24/7 at 604-669-6699