Sexual assault & sexual offences
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual offences are extremely serious and are often associated with long periods of incarceration. In Alberta, major sexual assaults attract a “starting point” sentence of three years jail. If the Complainant was a minor at the time of the allegation, you can be charged with sexual interference or sexual assault. Sexual offences against minors are usually considered to be more aggravating due to their youth, or your position of trust or power.
Most sentences are accompanied by an order for the Accused to provide a sample of their DNA and register with the National Sex Offenders Registry. The order may also include a number of prohibitions related to communication with minors and travel to places like public parks or swimming pools.
Our lawyers have extensive experience dealing with sexual assault trials, and related offences. They include:
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Sexual Interference
- Sexual Exploitation
What is the age of consent?
A young person under the age of 12 cannot consent to sexual activity.
If the young person is 12 or 13 years old, they may consent to sexual activity with a partner who is less than two years older than them. An individual who is 14 or 15 years old can consent to sexual activity with a partner who is less than five years older than them. At the age of 16, a young person can consent to sexual activity with a partner without consideration of age.
However, for complainants aged 16 and 17, if there are allegations of sexual exploitation due to a power imbalance or relationship of trust, any legal consent can potentially be vitiated.
The police are investigating me for a sexual offence. What should I do?
If you are contacted by police and asked to speak to them about a sexual assault investigation, you should contact legal counsel right away. At the police station, the police must tell you whether you are under arrest or being investigated pending possible arrest. The police must also tell you which charges you are facing. Along with this information, the police must provide access to a private phone area so that you can call a lawyer and receive important legal advice.
After you receive legal advice, the police can question you for a lengthy period of time. You must tell the police your name and address. You always have the right to remain silent when being questioned by the police. You are not obligated to provide further information that will assist the police in their investigation. Even if you tell the police that you do not wish to speak to them, the police can proceed with an interrogation and try to get information from you to further their investigation. It is often in your best interest to exercise your right to silence.
Will I have to testify at trial?
The decision of whether or not to testify is a strategic one and is made in consultation with your legal counsel. You have the right to testify in your defence at your trial. However, should you choose not to testify, this decision cannot be held against you. Since it takes several months or years to arrive at your trial, you should write out your statement as soon as possible. You may also have corroborating evidence, such as pictures, medical records, emails, text messages, and telephone logs. You should preserve that evidence so you may provide it to your lawyer in preparation for trial.