The offence of sexual assault

The offence of sexual assault, provided under section 271 of the Criminal Code requires the Crown to prove three elements:  touching, the sexual nature of the contact and the lack of consent. There are several levels of severity for sexual assault (sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, serious sexual assault). There are also several degrees of severity in relation to the gesture, which can range from a simple touch to complete sexual intercourse.

When a person is charged with sexual assault, it is important for the criminal lawyer to evaluate whether the conduct has the sexual nature to be defined as a sexual assault. The question then is: “Can a reasonable person perceive the sexual context of the aggression? ” To answer this question, the lawyer must evaluate several elements, the part of the body, the nature of the contact, the situation in which it occurred, the words or gestures that accompanied the act, and all other circumstances surrounding the conduct, including any threats.

The notion of consent refers to the voluntary agreement of the complainant to sexual activity. Consent should not be assumed in these situations:

  • The agreement is manifested through words or conduct of another person (a person who does not take part in the sexual activity)
  • The complainant is incapacitated
  • The accused person persuades the complainant by breach of trust or power
  • The complainant expresses, through words or conduct, the lack of agreement
  • After having consented to the activity, the complainant manifests through words or conduct, the absence of agreement that the sexual activity should continue.

Each of us is responsible for making sure that the activity is consensual. The accused should not believe there is consent when his or her faculties are impaired by excessive drug or alcohol consumption. Reasonable steps should be taken to secure consent.

The offence of sexual assault is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years. When the complainant is under the age of sixteen, a minimum sentence of one year of imprisonment applies (criminal offence). In the case of a summary conviction, the offence is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months and, if the complainant is under 16 years of age, the minimum sentence is 6 months.

It is important for the person charged with sexual assault to contact a lawyer. The lawyer will be able to evaluate the case and explain the different ways to try to reduce the sentence or obtain an acquittal.

In certain cases, age renders the complainant’s consent is irrelevant. This is a sexual assault, even if the complainant was consenting to sexual activity. Ask our lawyers about these situations.

Other offences: sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation, etc.

In addition to the offence of sexual assault, there are several other sexual offences. Thus, a person may be charged with both sexual assault and one or more other offences of a sexual nature. These other offences may apply in cases where the complainant is a person under 16 years of age.

Sexual interference

Commits sexual interference someone who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years

The offence is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 14 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year in case of an indictable offence and imprisonment for a term of not more than two years less a day and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of 90 days for a summary conviction.

Consult with a criminal lawyer to learn more about these sexual offences and their consequences.

Offences related to child pornography

The Criminal Code provides a number of offences for child pornography. First and foremost, it should be understood that by “child “, the Code refers to a person under 18 years of age. Child pornography includes any image or video in which a person under the age of 18 years (or presented as such), engages in explicit sexual activity or whose dominant characteristic of which is the depiction, for a sexual purpose, of a sexual organ of a person under 18 years of age. It may also be any written material, visual representation or audio recording.

a) Making child pornography

Every person who makes, prints, publishes or possesses for the purpose of publication any child pornography is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 14 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year.

b) Distribution, etc. of child pornography

Every person who transmits, makes available, distributes, sells, advertises, imports, exports or possesses for the purpose of transmission, making available, distribution, sale, advertising or exportation any child pornography is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 14 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year.

c) Accessing child pornography

Every person who accesses any child pornography is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year, or imprisonment for a term of not more than two years less a day and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months in case of a summary conviction

d) Possession of child pornography

Every person who is in possession of child pornography is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, with a minimum sentence of one year or a summary offence punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years – 1 day, the minimum penalty being 6 months.

Accused of an offence related to child pornography? Contact our criminal lawyers to find out what options are available to you. After reviewing your file, our lawyers will inform you of your options. The offences of child pornography are serious and if convicted, are liable to a term of imprisonment. It is therefore essential to consult a specialized lawyer in order to fully understand the consequences of a plea.