What Does It Mean To Be Charged With Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is a serious crime. However, the type of conduct that it covers is wide-ranging and can sometimes be confusing. If you or someone you know has been charged with sexual assault, is it important to understand what the charge entails so that you can effectively work with a criminal defence lawyer to address the charges.
If you or someone you know has been charged with sexual assault in Toronto, the best course of action is to hire an experienced sexual assault lawyer. A sexual assault charge can have extremely serious consequences on your life and an experienced criminal lawyer can help you achieve the best outcome.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is any form of assault that interferes with another person’s sexual integrity. This is not limited to rape or non-consensual sexual intercourse but can also include non-consensual fondling, touching, or even just kissing.
Section 265, the Criminal Code of Canada defines “assault” as follows:
(1) A person commits an “assault” when:
(a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;
(b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or
(c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.
The assault will constitute a sexual assault if the assault interferes with the alleged victim’s sexual integrity. This applies to all forms of assault, including sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm and aggravated sexual assault.
The Criminal Code also codifies other specific sexual offences crimes such as sexual exploitation, invitation for sexual touching, child pornography, voyeurism, etc. If you are charged with sexual assault, it is possible to also be charged with additional sexual crimes depending on the circumstance.
What to do After Being Charged
The first thing you should do if you or someone you know has been charged with sexual assault is to consult with an experienced criminal lawyer. Beyond this, you should also:
Gather and preserve any evidence relevant to the charge (i.e. clothing, photos, videos, and objects).
Make note of all the places that you were at so that efforts can be made to preserve whatever videorecorded evidence may exist. Many public and private places now have independent security camera systems which preserve videorecordings for limited periods of time. Time is of the essence if all of this evidence is to be obtained before it is lost forever.
Gather and preserve any documents or records that could be relevant to the case, such as social media messages on Facebook, Instagram, etc., any text messages, emails, letters, cards, etc. which may show communications sent before or after the alleged incident, and any credit card receipts, etc. which may show when and where you were at the time of the incident. Especially if the accused believes they were not with the alleged victim or at the scene of the incident, records that show your location such as GPS records, phone, or computer records are important.
Curate a list of possible witnesses, meaning a list of everyone that you think may have relevant information about the case, and obtain their contact information.
Be prepared to share all of this information with the lawyer.
What Not to do When Charged with Sexual Assault
There are a few common errors people accused of sexual assault make simply because they are not aware of the consequences to their case. If you or someone you know has been charged with sexual assault:
DO NOT try to speak or communicate in any manner, either directly or through a third party, with the alleged victim.
DO NOT speak to police without a lawyer present.
DO NOT ask for or agree to non-mandatory testing or give any evidence to police without first consulting with a lawyer.