Need Advice? 780.425.7448 or 604.669.7447

Criminal Trials and Appeals | Edmonton | Vancouver

Sexual Offences


Sprake Song & Konye Fights Allegations of Sexual Offences

To be accused of a crime can be traumatic all on its own, but being accused of a sexual offence can carry heavy consequences. For such a serious accusation, only a professional and experienced law firm can help restore your reputation and put you back in good standing with your community.

What is Sexual Assault?

There is no clear definition of “rape” acts under the Criminal Code of Canada. The assault crime itself is codified under general assault, which means it is a crime to apply any kind of force to a person with intent and without her consent.

With such a broad definition, this can encompass any act that may be considered minor — such as a tap on the buttocks — all the way to forced intercourse. In addition to this, s. 265(b) even includes the threat of applying force to another person should that person truly believe there is a reasonable chance that it would occur. To put it simply, you can be charged for aggravated sexual assault without even laying a finger on the victim.

These are all situations that could lead to a charge:

  • A man forcibly rapes a stranger in an alley
  • A woman who wakes up after drinking the previous night, claiming she was not sober enough to consent to sex with a man
  • A couple goes on a date, and a woman claims he inappropriately touched her without consent
  • A man 21 years of age has sex with a girl who claims to be 16 but is actually 15
  • A woman claims that a man touched her buttocks in the nightclub without consent

Though some situations in this list are quite obvious, there are many cases that aren’t so simple, putting the focus on several issues like mistaken belief in consent, lack of consent, and mistaken belief of age. When there is alcohol or drug use involved in the situation as well, it can become difficult to figure out exactly what happened. All it takes is one bad night to find yourself stuck with a serious criminal charge.

If the victim did not provide consent, it is still possible to use an honest mistaken belief of consent as a form of defence. This does have heavy restrictions to it; for example, Canadian law does not recognize “implied consent,” which is consent that may have been given through behaviour. In addition, an accused cannot rely on this belief without taking reasonable steps to determine whether the other person really was consenting.

What Penalties Can Occur?

As one would expect, due to the wide range of possible acts covered under sexual assault crimes, the penalties that can occur are just as varied. The consequence may be as simple as probation, or a long term in prison. General sexual assault can land an accused person in prison for up to ten years, but those convicted of aggravated sexual assault can spend life in prison.

In Alberta, the starting point sentence for major sexual assault for an adult who does not have previous convictions on his or her record would be three years’ imprisonment. For those in a position of authority against a child, the starting point for the penalty is four years’ imprisonment.  Courts in British Columbia do not rigidly ascribe to starting-point sentences, but they may find guidance in cases that use them.

Keep in mind that these are merely starting-points for the judge to consider; the sentence can either be shorter or longer based on the factors surrounding the situation. However, it is still safe to assume that being convicted of a major sexual assault will almost always result in a long time spent in prison. For offences that are less serious, it is still possible to end up in prison.


With sexual assault charges, the prosecutor is required to prove that the person accused of the crime was aware that the complainant did not provide any consent. Alternatively, he must prove that the defendant was purposely blind about whether or not the complainant consented or was reckless about getting consent.


With sexual assault charges, the primary consideration the court must consider is the presence of consent, which is not established when the accused was reckless about getting consent or was purposely blind to whether he received consent or not.

Consent is one kind of defence to criminal offences. In most instances, the main question the court poses is whether the complainant provided consent to the engagement.

He Said/She Said Credibility

Aside from consent, it is very important to establish the credibility of both the accused and the complainant, especially in a situation of “he said/she said.” In this area, the general rule of thumb is that if the court believes the accused’s evidence, the judge is required to acquit him or her. Even if the judge does not believe the accused but the accused’s evidence raises a reasonable doubt, or if there is any other evidence that raises a reasonable doubt, he or she must acquit the accused.

Indecent Assault

This term is no longer part of the Criminal Code, though it is still possible to accuse someone of indecent assault if the alleged incident occurred when the legislation was still in effect. Most of the acts that once fell under this category are now considered sexual assault. The court will decide whether the act was indecent or whether the circumstances around it suggest that the accused had the intent to be indecent when determining whether an act could be considered indecent.

Gross Indecency

This offence was once a part of the Criminal Code but has since been removed. Some acts that would have fallen under this category are no longer considered to be prohibited in Canada. The other acts can be considered sexual assault.

If an incident were to have occurred while the provisions were still in effect, then you may still be accused of a gross indecency charge to this day.

If you have been accused with a serious sexual offence, you need a professional and capable firm able to get you back into good standing with your community without prison time. Contact Sprake Song & Konye for a consultation today.