Allegations of sexual abuse are among the most stigmatizing and serious allegations you can face in the Canadian criminal justice system. An allegation of sexual abuse can negative lifelong consequences, even when you prove your innocence through the trial process. Conviction after trial for sexual abuse offences is devastating for you and your family.
A person convicted of sex abuse offences faces a criminal record for life. Convicted sex offenders are placed on a database for a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life depending on the circumstances.
If you are charged with a sexual abuse offence you must hire a lawyer who has experience defending clients with these charges successfully. You need to retain the services of a well-qualified, experienced, and reliable criminal defence lawyer. Dale Melville Law has the experience and track record of getting good results in this extremely difficult area of law.
One of the highest priorities in all sexual assault cases is to protect the complainant. The criminal justice system has put in place various safeguards to protect complainants and allow them to come forward with sex crimes allegations.
For instance, past sexual history of a complainant can no longer be introduced into evidence without having a special hearing before a judge, and then only in special circumstances. The complainant’s medical records, counselling records, or other private records can sometimes, when relevant and necessary, be used in court after getting special permission from the trial judge. Special permission is given in very narrow circumstances.
With the odds stacked against you, can you rely on just any of Surrey’s criminal lawyers? Mr. Melville of Dale Melville Law has a long history of defending clients accused of sexual assault and getting the best possible results.
Here is what you need to know about sexual assault charges in BC, and why a consultation with the right lawyer can impact the rest of your life.
What Does Sexual Assault Entail?
Sexual assault is a factually and legally complex area of law. The statements below are to give a very general idea of the law surrounding sexual assault. If you are charged with sexual assault you need to speak to an experienced Surrey criminal lawyer immediately. No statements below should be relied on as legal advice.
A charge of sexual assault is generally an allegation that an assault occurred that violated the sexual integrity of an individual, or allegation of touching for a sexual purpose. In considering whether a sexual assault occurred as alleged, the court will examine the specific facts of the alleged incident. The court will carefully examine the allegations of the nature of contact, the body parts touched, and the gestures, words, or behaviours accompanying the alleged touching. The intention of an accused is also a factor to be considered when deciding whether the overall conduct is of a sexual nature, and whether a sexual assault occurred as alleged.
I went from looking at 3-5 years and got out within 3 months of the day I was incarcerated. He was always respectful to my family and me.
– N.L., Google Review
Sexual interference refers to an offence involving the direct or indirect touching of body parts for sexual purposes on a person that is younger than 16 years of age.
Sexual Exploitation and Interference Penalties in Surrey
The penalty for a person convicted for these offences is a maximum of 14 years in prison and a minimum of one year in prison if the Crown elects to proceed by indictment. The penalty when the Crown prosecutor elects to proceed summarily is a maximum period of 2 years in prison.
For an individual charged to be convicted of sexual interference, the Crown prosecutor is required to prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- the accused touched the victim or complainant with their body or another object for a sexual purpose.
- the touching was sexual in nature and intentional.
- the accused knew the complainant to be under the age of 16, or that no reasonable action was taken to ascertain the age.
It is important to note that the Crown prosecutor is under no obligation to prove that the touching was for sexual gratification purposes for the accused to be found guilty of an offence. At the same time, it is the responsibility of the Crown prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the touching was intended for sexual purposes.
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Aggravated sexual assault refers to a sexual offence involves maiming, wounding, life endangerment, and/or disfigurement of the complainant. This offence has a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
This is a profoundly serious allegation, and if convicted, you will almost certainly be going to jail for periods measuring in years rather than months. You must contact an experienced Surrey criminal lawyer immediately.
Factors that will Impact an Aggravated Sexual Assault Case
There are several factors that can increase the amount of sentence or the time spent by the convicted person in prison. These include:
- Victim’s age – A convicted person can get the life imprisonment sentence if the complainant is found to be less than 16 years of age. The minimum sentence in such a case is no less than 5 years in prison.
- Criminal organization – A convicted person may face a minimum sentence of five years in jail for the first offence or seven years for subsequent offences and maximum sentence of life imprisonment if the aggravated sexual assault is found to be committed in association or at the discretion of a criminal organization while using a firearm.
- Use of weapons – A convicted sex offender shall be subject to a minimum sentence of four years in jail and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if a firearm is proved to be used during the sexual offence.
In addition, the requirement for an aggravated sexual assault convict to serve a minimum prison sentence prevents the court from imposing other conditional and community-based sentence, such as house arrest.
Potential Defences Available for a Sexual Assault Charge
There can be several defences employed for sexual assault charge. The right approach depends on individual circumstances and availability of evidence. This makes it vital to retain the services of one of Surrey’s experienced sexual assault lawyers.
Some of the more common defences employed are:
- the allegation never occurred
- some of the allegation occurred, but other parts never happened (partial defence)
- the allegation may have occurred, but it was someone else (mistaken identity)
- the accused person had an honest but mistaken belief the complainant was consenting, and took objective reasonable steps in obtaining consent
- the accused person, on account of mental disorder, should not be held criminally responsible (NCR — not criminally responsible application)
Punishment or Sentence for Sexual Assault in Surrey
Sentencing for sexual assault is a complex, factually distinct area of law. The minimums and maximum sentences show the extremes, whereas most offenders fall closer toward the middle.
While sentencing, a judge usually considers a host of factors, including the offender’s criminal records, unique case circumstances, and personal circumstances of the accused.
Sexual assault convicts also face the stigma of being featured on national and provincial databases of sex offenders from anywhere for a minimum period of ten years up to a lifetime on the registry.
Given the seriousness of sexual assault charges, calling the right criminal defence lawyer can have a lasting impact on your case. To learn how Mr. Melville can fight your case, contact us for a free consultation at 604-265-7020.