What does consent mean?

>>>What does consent mean?

For the purposes of this offence, consent refers to the complainant’s voluntary agreement to participate in the act in question. In Canada, the age of consent to sexual activity is sixteen, but a person cannot consent to sexual activity with someone who is in a position of trust or authority over them until they are 18 years old.

In order for consent to be legitimate it has to be clear and explicitly communicated either through words or actions, and it has to be present consent. Present consent means consent to the sexual acts as they are happening. This means that it is not a defence to say that the complainant consented in the past and therefore consents to sexual acts with you in the future. Further, silence and passivity do not amount to consent, so there is no such thing as implicit consent. Otherwise said, you cannot allege that the other person consented simply because they did not say no or clearly object in some other way.

The Criminal Code also clearly identifies specific situations where consent will not be recognized:

  1. The complainant, having consented to the sexual activity, expresses, by words or conduct, that he or she wishes to stop engaging in the activity but you do not listen;
  2. The complainant is incapable of consenting, for example, because they are passed out or simply too drunk to consent;
  3. If the consent was given by someone other than the complainant;
  4. If the complainant consented to the sexual activity but was induced to engage in it by a person in a position of trust, power, or authority;
  5. When consent was obtained by threats or violence; and,
  6. When the person clearly indicates they do not consent either through words or actions.

It is important to note that when evaluating whether or not consent existed between the parties at the time of the offence, the Court will consider consent from the perspective of the complainant, not the perspective of the accused.

The Penalty for Sexual Assault in Canada:

Depending on the nature of your charge, a conviction for sexual assault can result in a range of sentences. Generally, if convicted of sexual assault you will be liable for a sentence of imprisonment of up to 10 years. The severity of your sentence will dramatically increase if you are charged with a more serious offence like sexual assault causing bodily harm, sexual assault with a weapon, or sexual assault of someone under the age of 16. For example, if the victim of the assault is under the age of 16 years, you will automatically face a minimum of 1 year in prison with a maximum of 14 years. If you are found guilty of sexual assault with a weapon, or of sexual assault causing bodily harm you will face a maximum of 14 years. If the weapon happened to be a firearm, you will automatically face a minimum of 4 years in prison. If you are convicted of aggravated sexual assault you can face a sentence of up to life in prison, and a minimum of 4 years if you used a firearm when committing the offence.

A sexual assault conviction is one of the most serious convictions you can have on your criminal record. Not only will you have to face a heavy penalty if convicted of the crime, but you will also have to contend with a number of serious consequences following your conviction. Specifically, if convicted you will likely face ancillary orders like a mandatory surrender of your DNA to a national DNA bank, mandatory registration as a sex offender, and may also be subject to a firearms and weapons prohibition. Further, you can expect that your employment prospects will be limited following your conviction, and that you will also face incredible challenges when crossing the border between Canada and the United States. As such, if you have been charged with sexual assault, it is extremely important that you contact a criminal defence lawyer right away. We can immediately start working on your case and help you build the strongest defence possible.

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Disclaimer: All results of cases handled by the lawyer/firm are not provided. The results provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer/firm or of the experience of all clients or others with the lawyer/firm. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.

All our 30-60 minute free consultations are conducted with one of our Criminal Defence Lawyers and include the following steps:

  1. Gathering of some personal information about you, such as your level of education, occupation, and citizenship status. This information can be crucial for building your defence and seeking a resolution with the Crown Prosecutor;
  2. Careful review of all documents you received from the police. We will explain what each document is, and what you can expect from and need to do for all upcoming appearances;
  3. Critical review of your recollection of events, and any supporting materials you choose to bring with you. This step helps us identify possible defences and avenues for further investigation; and
  4. Discussion of the court process, our fee structure, and what we can do to help.

Beyond these steps, we would be happy to tell you more about us, and answer any questions you may have. If you chose to retain us to help you, we will immediately provide an overview of what steps we plan to take next, and suggestions as to what you should do to improve your chances of a successful outcome.

For the free initial consultation to be as productive as possible, you should bring (or email in advance) the following materials:

  • A written statement (preferably typed) outlining your version of events;
  • All documents that you have been given by the court or by the police;
  • Any disclosure you have received;
  • Photo ID; and
  • Any supporting documents, such as photographs, emails, texts, phone records, medical records, receipts, etc.

Ideally, you will have prepared a copy of these materials for us to keep, but if not, we can always photocopy them during the consultation.

We offer flexible payment options and structures designed to meet our clients’ individual needs. Our lawyers accept all major credit cards, bank drafts, money orders, email money transfers (e-transfers) and, of course, cash.

If you decide to retain us after the free initial consultation, all we need is a retainer (down payment) to get started. The rest of the fee payments for the case can be spaced out over time. We can set you up on a monthly or bi-monthly payment plan, and process payments over the telephone or by email to make it easy for you.

The cost of a criminal defence lawyer will depend on several factors, including:

  1. how complex your case is,
  2. how serious the charges are, and
  3. how experienced the Criminal Defence lawyer is.

The fees of a competent Criminal Defence Lawyer will typically range into the thousands of dollars. The good news is that only a fraction of that amount is due initially. We offer flexible payment schedules so thefees can be paid in monthly installments.

Additionally, we offer flat rate fees, with no hidden costs. It is our standard practice to review all the costs during the free initial consultation. This means you will know exactly what our services cost at the outset and can make an informed decision about how to proceed.