Why You Should Get Help from a Sexual Assault Lawyer in Calgary

Sexual assault is one of the most serious criminal charges in Canada. In addition to being highly stigmatized, sexual assault carries the possibility of lengthy prison sentences, long-term restrictions under probation and sex offender registration orders. If you are charged with sexual assault, an experienced sexual assault lawyer in Calgary can defend you.

Sexual Assault Laws in Canada

Sexual assault captures a broad range of conduct, ranging from unwanted touching to forcible, non-consensual relations. Sexual assault is criminalized by section 271 of the Criminal Code. Sexual assault laws use the same definition as common assault, which is defined in section 265 of the Criminal Code that states:

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 a 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.

To prove a sexual assault, the Crown must demonstrate touching, the absence of consent, and that the touching was of a sexual nature.

While there are no determining factors of what constitutes a sexual nature, there are several factors examined by the police when laying a charge and the courts when determining if someone is guilty of sexual assault. The Edmonton Police Service notes the following as relevant factors in a sexual assault investigation:

  • The part of the body touched 
  • The nature of the contact 
  • The situation in which the contact occurred 
  • The words and gestures accompanying the act 
  • All other circumstances surrounding the act 
  • Any threats that may or may not be accompanied by force

Other sexual assault laws in the Criminal Code include sexual assault with a weapon (section 272(1) and aggravated sexual assault, which is a case where the accused in committing a sexual assault, wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant (section 273(1)).

Consequences of a Sexual Assault Conviction
There are severe punishments for sexual assault offences in Canada. Section 271 of the Criminal Code states that the maximum sentence for a summary offence (less serious conviction) is 18 months, or 2 years less a day if the victim is under 16, and for an indictable or more serious offence the maximum imprisonment is 10 years, or 14 years if the victim is under 16.

There are also mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment that a judge must impose when the victim is under 16, six months for summary conviction offences and one year for indictable offences. Certain cases of sexual assault with a weapon and aggravated sexual assault carry mandatory minimum sentences of 5 years.

If you are convicted of sexual assault, you may face a fine, probation order and be required to register as a sex offender for a period of 10 years, 20 years or life.

How a Sexual Assault Lawyer in Calgary Can Help
A criminal lawyer in Calgary with experience defending sexual assault cases can assist you in several ways. First, he or she will be able to assess your case and come up with the best plan of defence, including if the case goes to trial. Many sexual assault cases are “he said, she said” matters, with evidence only coming from the complainant and the accused. An experienced lawyer will be able to effectively cross-examine witnesses within the confines of the rules of evidence and point out inconsistencies in their testimony.

For example, in R. v. Dorosh, 2015 ABPC 130, a criminal lawyer defended a business owner charged with a sexual assault of one of his customers. Both the complaint and the accused testified to different versions of a similar set of circumstances. By using effective cross-examination techniques, the criminal defence lawyer pointed out inconsistent portions of the accused’s version of events, such as leaving a ring at the store after the alleged assault despite saying she was desperate to escape. As a result, the trial judge found the accused not guilty.

In cases where it is advisable, an experienced criminal lawyer may also assist in plea bargaining with the Crown to secure the most favorable sentence possible and avoid or at least reduce jail time. An experienced criminal lawyer can also help at sentencing and present arguments and case law to support the most lenient sentence possible.

Speak to Dennis Kolba, a sexual assault lawyer in Calgary.

At Dennis Kolba Criminal Law Office, we seek to preserve your dignity and fight the charges laid against you. We defend against all criminal charges, and specialize in sexual assault defence. Calgary lawyer Dennis Kolba has the experience you need for your defence. Contact us at 403-464-3013 to arrange your free consultation today.

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