Sexual Assault Lawyers Toronto

Toronto sexual assault lawyers

The Criminal Code of Canada contains a number of sex-related offences, including sexual assault,    internet sex crimes such as possession and distribution of child pornography, luring and voyeurism. Other types of sexual assault offences include sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation. As well, other sex-related offences are common bawdy house offences, and obscenity allegations.

Sexual assault charges are of varying degrees of seriousness, and include aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault causing bodily harm, and sexual assault with a weapon. It is not uncommon for sex-related charges to be included with additional allegations of some form of domestic assault.

Defence of consent

A potentially successful defence to a sexual assault charge is that the alleged victim had consented to the conduct, or that the accused mistakenly believed the complainant had consented. Consumption of alcohol or drugs and/or a motivation to lie on the part of the complainant are common weapons used by the sexual assault lawyers in advancing a defence that the complainant consented to the alleged sexual assault.   Recently, we successfully defended a client charged with sexual assault by convincing the judge that the complainant consented to the sexual act, by showing that not only did she lie when she said she did not consent, but that she probably would not have consented if she was not intoxicated at the time.

While previous sexual activity by the complainant, either with the accused or others, is not automatically admitted into evidence at trial, it is often relevant to an important issue in the case. The admission of this type of evidence requires a complicated application to the trial judge, convincing the judge that the prior sexual activity of the complainant “has significant probative value that is not substantially outweighed by the danger of prejudice to the proper administration of justice.” In a number of sexual assault cases, the Criminal Law Team has successfully argued for this type of evidence to be admitted. In one such case, we were able to prove that the complainant had sex with our client at an earlier time, and this convinced the judge that the complainant was lying about not consenting at the time and place alleged in her accusation.

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Age of consent

The age of consent varies depending on the offence and the age difference between the accused and the complainant. For example, the age of consent to sexual activity is 16 years, unless the complainant is 14 or 15 years of age and the accused is less than 5 years older. So, a 14 year old can consent to sexual activity with a 19 year old, as long as there is less than 5 years difference in their ages (days and months are relevant to this determination).
With respect to the offence of sexual exploitation, the complainant must be 16 or 17 years of age, and the accused must be “in a position of trust or authority” towards the complainant. These are just a few examples of the variations possible in the age of consent.

Historical sex assault and sex abuse charges

There is no statute of limitations on most sexual offences, and some accused persons face allegations that are decades old. These “historical sexual assaults” pose a number of problems. For example, people’s memories fade over time, and are often influenced by therapy sessions, substance abuse, and “the blame game.” There are many ways to defend the accused, including alleging “false memory syndrome”, where memories may have been altered by outside influences. A successful private records application to the court can convince a judge that psychiatric, counseling, or other records may provide evidence that the complainant’s memory is either “false”, or is motivated by ill will or hatred of the accused that is unrelated to the allegation before the court.

Forensic (scientific) evidence

The prosecution often relies upon forensic evidence, such as DNA and hair sample analysis, to prove identity. This evidence can make a huge difference to the outcome for the individual who is charged with sexual assault or related sexual crimes. Bodily fluids which may have been left by the accused at or near a crime scene can be analyzed for DNA and compared to known specimens to determine if there is a match based on statistical probabilities. Television programs, such as CSI Miami, often portray such evidence as infallible. But expert witnesses can distinguish the reality of the courtroom from TV fiction. This is why it is important for sexual assault lawyers to retain such experts in serious cases in order to successfully challenge this type of forensic evidence.

“I (do not) confess”- Consult us before you talk to the police

Without any forensic evidence, especially regarding young complainants, the police usually consider it critically important to obtain an incriminating statement (effectively, a confession) from a suspect. Often, there is no evidence available to police investigators other than the statement and intended testimony of the complainant.

If you are accused of or suspected of having committed a sexual assault, it is extremely important that you know your right to remain silent and your right to consult with legal counsel before giving any statement to the police (this includes verbal, written or statements electronically recorded in any manner). The police will not cease questioning you just because you exercise your right to remain silent. Sexual assault lawyers in Toronto can prepare you for the different methods police use to “make you talk”. Contact the Criminal Law Team right away to increase your chances of a successful outcome.  See what our other clients are saying about us.  We can help you too!

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