Sexual Assault Lawyer Toronto

Facing Sexual Assault Charges? Get An Experienced Criminal Lawyer To Help Navigate And Make Sense Of The Complex Legal Nuances And Defend Your Rights.

When your personal and professional reputation is on the line, time is of the essence. In Canada, a sexual assault charge, arrest or mere accusation of a sex crime can lead to serious repercussions from the moment you are charged. Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman lawyers in Toronto understand what’s at stake for you and will defend your rights with passion and professionalism, regardless of the size of the sexual assault case or the level of complexity.

We are skilled in diverse cross-examination techniques, powerful negotiation strategies and in providing a strong legal defence while applying strategic pressure on the prosecution. Our criminal lawyers have defended all manner of sexual assault cases, including charges of sexual assault with a weapon and aggravated sexual assault cases with an alleged physical injury.

 

How To Pick The Right Sexual Assault Lawyer In Toronto?

Sexual Assault Case Emphasis

All experience is not the same experience. With so much at risk, you need a criminal defence lawyer emphasising sexual assault cases. At Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman, our lawyers have defended many complex sexual assault cases, in court and outside. Our strong track record is what’s earned us our stellar reputation in the industry.

The Right Balance Of Skills That Earn Trust

While you want to have a strong legal fighter in your corner, we know that you also need a professional you can believe and trust. At Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman, our criminal defence lawyers have the right mix of compassion, sensitivity, knowledge, practical experience and grit.

Tedious Preparation Is Key

Our primary form of attack is tedious and thorough preparation when working on each case. Our sexual assault lawyers will get to work the minute they are retained, and start building a strong case through meticulous preparation and evaluation of every minute detail.

Cross-Examination That Gets Results

It is through exhaustive cross-examination, we evaluate our cases looking at every meaningful inconsistency.  While medical evidence can play a significant role in many sexual assault allegations, often, the only evidence to work with comes from a single complainant. Therefore, it is incredibly important that a sexual assault lawyer can conduct a comprehensive and skilful cross-examination. Our lawyers at Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman recognize when cases require subtle questioning and when to shift to a more aggressive or confrontational method.

We Speak The Language You Understand

While “legal” is our native language, we speak with our clients in a language they understand, leaving legal jargon behind. Our commitment, at Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman law firm, is not only to fight the battle on your behalf, but to ensure transparency and your complete comfort in the process.

Understanding Your Sexual Assault Charge

The Canadian legal system is extremely complex. If you have been charged with sexual assault or another sexual offence, it is imperative that you understand your charges, how your case is viewed through the lens of the Criminal Code of Canada, the consequences that you are facing, and the course of action that you should be taking.

While picking a strong sexual assault lawyer will be a critical milestone and a deciding factor in the success of your case, knowing the facts will help you manage your expectations and prepare emotionally.

These are some of the common questions that our clients ask, pertaining to sexual assault cases.

What Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is an act in which a person intentionally touches another person, in a sexual manner, without their consent. The touching, according to the Criminal Code, can be subtle or extremely violent.  To be charged, one does not need to physically force another person to engage in a full sexual act, rather, sexual grabbing, kissing, fondling, touching, or even threatening to, can be sufficient to merit a criminal charge.

 

What Is Sexual Assault According To The Criminal Code Of Canada?

According to the section 265

(1), which defines this offence within the Criminal Code of Canada, a person commits an assault, including sexual assault, when:

      (a) the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant;

      (b) threats or fear of the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant;

      (c) fraud; or

      (d) the exercise of authority.

(2) This section applies to all forms of assault, including sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm and aggravated sexual assault.

(3) For the purposes of this section, no consent is obtained where the complainant submits or does not resist by reason of:

      (a) the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant;

      (b) threats or fear of the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant;

      (c) fraud; or

      (d) the exercise of authority.

(4) Where an accused alleges that he believed that the complainant consented to the conduct that is the subject-matter of the charge, a judge, if satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and that, if believed by the jury, the evidence would constitute a defence, shall instruct the jury, when reviewing all the evidence relating to the determination of the honesty of the accused’s belief, to consider the presence or absence of reasonable grounds for that belief.

 

What Is The Differnce Between A Summary Conviction Offence And An Inictable Offence?

Most offences in the Criminal Code are hybrid, which means that Crown Counsel can decide whether to prosecute the matter by Indictment or Summarily. In other words, the same offence can be prosecuted through two different procedural streams. That decision is completely within the discretion of the Crown and can never be challenged. While prosecution by way of summary conviction can carry a lower sentence upon conviction, it will significantly hinder the way that you can defence your case.

What Does Summary Conviction Offence Mean?

Summary conviction cases can only be heard by a Judge in the Ontario Court of Justice, our provincial court. The accused person DOES NOT have a right to a Jury Trial.

If convicted of a summary conviction offence, the penalties can be significantly lower than if convicted of an Indictable offence.

What Does Indictable Offence Mean?

An Indictable offence is more serious, where depending on the degree of the offence, different sentencing and procedures will apply. A person who is charged with an Indictable offence can decide if they wish to have a trial in the Ontario Court of Justice (the Provincial Court) without a preliminary hearing and without a jury. However, if the person chooses, they have the option to proceed to a trial with a JURY.

The decision of how to defend your case has to be discussed in detail with your lawyer. What is best in one case, may not be best in another. It is likely to be one of the most important decisions in the defence of your case. Various considerations come into play. The criminal lawyers of Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman will spend a significant amount of time selecting the proper strategy.

 

What Are The Different Levels And Types Of Sexual Assault?

While the Criminal Code DOES NOT explicitly distinguish between various acts which can comprise a sexual assault, the difference in the type of contact or touching and the circumstances in which it occurred, will dictate the way the Crown will prosecute the case and the sentence if one is convicted. For ease of reference and to assist in better understanding the differences, in the discussion below, the offences are divided into Levels.

Sexual Assault – Level 1

Section 271 of the Criminal Code of Canada

This offence criminalizes non-consensual physical contact of a sexual nature involving a violation of the sexual integrity of the victim. These types of assaults may or may not involve a full sexual act. Usually, this level of sexual assault involves minor or no bodily harm.

Penalty For Level 1 Sexual Assault

Often these offences are prosecuted by summary conviction and carry a maximum 18 month jail  sentence upon conviction. If the victim is under 16 years of age, mandatory minimum penalties of 90 days’ imprisonment will apply if prosecuted by summary conviction. If prosecuted by Indictment, the potential penalties are much higher. Again, the decision of how to prosecute the case, by summary conviction of by indictment is within the complete discretion of the prosecution.

Sexual Assault With A Weapon Or Causing Bodily Harm – Level 2

Section 272 of the Criminal Code of Canada

This offence criminalizes sexual assault where a weapon is used, or where bodily harm is caused or threatened to another party.

Penalty For Level 2 Sexual Assault With A Weapon

This offence can only be prosecuted by Indictment. The maximum penalty is 14 years’ imprisonment and mandatory minimum penalties apply, including a five‑year mandatory minimum penalty where the victim is under 16 years of age.

Aggravated Sexual Assault – Level 3

Section 273 of the Criminal Code of Canada

This offence criminalizes the most serious forms of sexual assault involving wounding, maiming, disfiguring or endangering the life of the victim.

Penalty For Level 3 Aggravated Sexual Assault

This offence must also be prosecuted by Indictment. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment. Mandatory minimum penalties apply, including a five‑year mandatory minimum penalty where the victim is under 16 years of age.

 

WHAT OTHER TYPES OF SEXUAL OFFENCES IN THE CRIMINAL CODE OF CANADA?

INVITATION TO SEXUAL TOUCHING

involves inviting a minor under the age of 16 to touch directly or indirectly, the body of any other person.

SEXUAL INTERFERENCE

involves touching a minor under the age of 16, whether directly or indirectly, for a sexual purpose.

PROVIDING SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIAL TO A CHILD

is “grooming” a child using pornography in order to commit a sexual offence.

LURING A CHILD

involves communicating with a minor (under 16-18, depending on the circumstances) online to arrange or commit a sexual offence.

VOYEURISM

involves the secret observation via recording of a person for a sexual purpose, where an expectation of privacy is present.

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION

involves sexual contact by an adult with someone between the ages of 16-18, where the adult is in a position of trust or authority over the young person.

PUBLICATION OF INTIMATE IMAGES WITHOUT CONSENT

involves someone knowingly posting, distributing or selling an intimate image, recording or video of another person without their consent.

 

Sexual consent is an agreement to participate in a sexual activity. By giving consent, you let someone know that sex is voluntary and wanted. Without consent, sexual activity will be considered a sexual assault and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

 

The age of consent to sexual activity in Canada, as outlined in the Criminal Code, is 16 years. Once the person reaches 16 years of age, they are legally able to agree to sexual activity.

WHAT ABOUT 14 AND 15 YEARS OF AGE?

There are, however, exceptions with close in age instances. A 14 or 15-year old person can consent to sexual activity as long as their partner is less than five years older and there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency or any other exploitation of the young person. If the partner of a 14 or 15-year old is more than 5 years older, any sexual activity is considered to be a criminal offence.

WHAT ABOUT 12 AND 13 YEARS OF AGE?

Another close in age exception is for 12 and 13-year old children. A 12 or 13-year old can consent to sexual activity with their partner if the partner is less than two years older and there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency or any other exploitation of the young person. Again, this means that if the partner is more than 2 years older than the 12 or 13-year old, any sexual activity is considered a criminal offence.

Note: In Canada, children under 12 years of age cannot legally consent to sexual activity.

 

SENTENCE FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT AND SEXUAL OFFENCES

Sentencing for sexual assault and sexual offence cases vary greatly from a fine or probation with no time in prison, to maximum sentences of 18 months, 10 years or even life in prison.

In deciding what sentence to impose, the judge looks at:

  • the seriousness of the offence;
  • the type of touching;
  • the circumstances surrounding the offence;
  • the harm to the victim;
  • the amount of force used by the offender;
  • the offender’s attitude towards the crime;
  • the offender’s previous criminal record;
  • the kinds of sentences that have been given for similar offences; and
  • the message that it would send to others in the community.

 

SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO LAWYER OR POLICE FIRST IN ALLEGATIONS OF A SEXUAL OFFENCE?

The right answer is that you should always speak to a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer first, before speaking with the police. In Canada, it is your right to remain silent and this right is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

While you have no obligation to provide any information to the police, you might have to provide your name, address and date of birth, in the case of arrest.

Otherwise, anything you say to the police, at any time, “on the record” or “off the record”, will be used against you. Which is why it is best to retain a strong Sexual Assault lawyer as the first step if you have either been arrested or even just accused of a sexual assault crime.

The biggest mistake that people often make when facing allegations of this type of crime is delaying speaking with a lawyer. As time passes, the prosecutors and police have additional time to prepare the evidence against you. At Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman, our Toronto lawyers know the strategies that the prosecutors will use, so you can rest assured that our knowledge and expertise in the field of sexual assault defence will be a strong match.

 

WHAT ARE THE FIRST STEPS TO TAKE AFTER ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT OR ARREST?

  1. Be proactive, speak with a Toronto Sexual Assault Lawyer, who will instruct you what and how to gather evidence to support your case;
  2. Know your facts and understand your rights;
  3. Do not sign or say anything without first obtaining your lawyer’s advice.

 

DETERMINING IF THERE WAS CONSENT OR A MISTAKEN BELIEF IN CONSENT

Where a person is charged with sexual assault, he must convince the judge or the jury that consent was in fact given. The deciding factors in establishing the reasons to believe that the sexual activity was consented to will include the client’s testimony, along with many other factors of how the consent was communicated.

Another route to take would include a person accused in a sexual assault case to testify to a mistaken belief in consent. It is a matter of the state of mind of the accused, which means that the accused could be acquitted of sexual assault even if there is no consent to the sexual act as long as the accused genuinely believed that consent was given and communicated through the actions or words of the victim.

In Canada, a mistaken belief in consent according to the Criminal Code is NOT a defence in the following scenarios:

      (i) self-induced intoxication;

      (ii) recklessness or wilful blindness (i.e. accused was aware of a risk of a lack of consent, yet proceeded anyway and when the accused has intentionally obstructed their ability to recognize consent or lack thereof);

      (iii) the accused did not take reasonable steps, in the circumstances known to the accused at the time, to confirm that the complainant was consenting.

 

WHAT EVIDENCE CAN BE USED IN SEXUAL ASSAULT CASES? AND WHAT EVIDENCE CAN BE USED TO DEFEND A SEXUAL ASSAULT CHARGE?

In Canada, while the victim’s testimony will usually be the most important evidence in a sexual assault case, other evidence can also be used. Most of the time, the complainant’s statement is the only DIRECT evidence of the alleged assault- meaning it is often the only source of what happened during the incident (since most incidents are not captured on video). However, to substantiate the complainant’s version of events, the police will attempt to obtain circumstantial evidence- namely, any evidence that would confirm the circumstances of what happened before and after the incident.

By the same token, that same kinds of evidence can be used to discredit a complainant’s version of events. Here is a list of evidence the police will look to and that you should attempt to retain to demonstrate your side of the story. Upon retaining a criminal lawyer from Bytensky Prustchi Shikhman, you will tasked with compiling a list of all the possible sources that can be of assistance in challenging the complainant’s allegations. We will of course assist you in identifying all the relevant sources and will then start tracking all the evidence helpful to you.

  • witness testimony,
  • witness statements,
  • forensic evidence,
  • photographic evidence,
  • statements and/or admissions against interest;
  • phone records;
  • text/ email communications;
  • video surveillance;

 

WHAT IS THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY IN CANADA?

The Sex Offender Registry is Canada’s national database of all convicted sex offenders. The system was created as a result of the National Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA) in order to prevent and investigate crimes of a sexual nature and identify sex offenders living within a particular geographic area.

The registry tracks and monitors sex offenders and requires their annual registration and check-in with the police in order to provide the most up-to-date information on their employment, their address, phone number, the car they drive, and if they are volunteering anywhere.

The system is not available for public access.

The database tracks the following information on the offenders:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • current address
  • current photograph
  • identifying marks (e.g. tattoos, scars)
  • vehicle information
  • type of employment and address
  • sex offence(s) for which the offender has been convicted
  • provincial driver’s license
  • passport information

Once convicted under any of the following offences, as listed under the Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA), the judge may make an order to have the convicted defendant added to the Sex Offender Registry.

Offences under the SOIRA:

  • sexual interference
  • invitation to sexual touching
  • sexual exploitation
  • incest
  • bestiality (compelling the commission of; and in presence of or by a child)
  • child pornography (making, possession, distribution)
  • parent or guardian procuring sexual activity
  • exposure
  • sexual assault
  • sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm
  • aggravated sexual assault
  • select offences where it can be proven that the offence was committed with the intent to commit an offence of a sexual nature
  • attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above offences

Reach out to an experienced criminal lawyer with Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman law firm, if you have been arrested or charged with any of these sexual offences.

 

HOW TO BE TAKEN OFF THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY IN CANADA?

A registered sex offender can apply to be taken off the Sex Offender Registry before the order, set by the judge, ends.

Depending on the circumstances, if the order is for 10 years, the person can apply after 5 years of being on the registry. If the order is for 20 years, the person can apply after 10 years of being on the registry. If the order is for life, typically, the sex offender can apply after 20 years of being on the registry.

The success of the application cannot be guaranteed, as the process is quite complicated. Get in touch with one of our lawyers at Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman law firm to get professional assistance with the application process.

Speak To A Sexual Assault Lawyer Today

Charged with sexual assault? Don’t delay. Fill out the form below and request a confidential consultation. All inquiries are responded to within 24 hours.

If you or someone you know has been charged with sexual assault, you are invited to contact us to arrange for an initial client interview.
One of our experienced lawyers will sit down with you to discuss your case and give you a preliminary assessment of its strengths and weaknesses.

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