What is the Definition of Sexual Assault?
A sexual assault is an assault that is sexual in nature that is committed in a way that the sexual integrity of the victim is violated. In its simplest and most basic form, sexual assault is an unwanted touching of a sexual nature that violates another person’s sexual integrity.
What is the Legal Definition of Consent?
Consent is given when someone voluntarily agrees to sexual activity. In order for consent to be valid the person giving it must
1. Be the person engaging in sexual activity. Another person cannot give consent on a different person’s behalf.
2. The person must be able to consent. A person who is underage or unconscious cannot give consent.
3. It cannot be as a result of an abuse of trust, power, or authority.
4. It cannot be as a result of threats or fear for one’s safety
5. Not have given it as a result of being tricked or deceived about a material fact. An example of this would be his/her partner’s HIV status.
What is the Age of Consent?
The age of consent in Canada is 16 years. There are two “close in age” exceptions. A person who is up to five years older can lawfully engage in sexual activity with someone who is 14 or 15 years old, and a person who is two years older can lawfully engage in sexual activity with someone who is 12 or 13 years old.
Can a Person be Accused of Sexual Assault Even if the Alleged Victim is his/her Spouse?
The law in Canada makes it illegal to have non-consensual sexual relations with anyone, including a spouse.
What if an Assault is not for a Sexual purpose?
Canadian law also states that a person does not need to receive any sexual pleasure from the act or even commit the act for a sexual purpose in order for him/her to be guilty of sexual assault when a complainant’s sexual integrity is violated.
Can a Drunk Person Consent to Sexual Activity?
In some circumstances a drunk person can consent to sexual activity. The law states that poor decisions, memory loss, and loss of inhibitions due to alcohol do not automatically make any sexual activity that may have occurred non-consensual. If a person however is drunk to the point of incapacitation, s/he cannot consent to sexual activity.
What is the Difference Between Rape and Sexual Assault?
There is no longer a charge of rape. Any type of unwanted sexual contact from touching to intercourse falls under the category of sexual assault. A person who is accused of rape and charged will be charged with sexual assault.
What are the Defences to Sexual Assault?
• Consent – Where a court has reasonable doubt as to whether or not a complainant wilfully consented to participate in sexual activity, this defence is successful.
• Honest but mistaken belief in consent – Where a person is not reckless or “wilfully blind” to a person’s lack of consent, s/he may be found not guilty of sexual assault.
A mere accusation of sexual assault can be devastating to a person’s reputation. Lakin Afolabi is a Criminal Defence Lawyer in London Ontario who has successfully obtained not guilty verdicts for people charged with sexual assault. If you are charged with sexual assault it is important that you are well represented by effective legal counsel. For more information contact Lakin Afolabi.