Montreal Lawyers For Sexual Offences

No one ever expects to be charged with sexual assault or other Criminal Code sexual offences. These charges are often unexpected and are utterly devastating. It’s a harrowing and highly distressing ordeal that causes embarrassment, and carries serious consequences from the moment of the accusation

In a post #MeToo world, it’s easy to feel as though the “presumption of innocence” is more of a theory than it is a reality. It often feels as though the onus has shifted on the accused to prove their innocence rather than on the prosecutor to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, from the moment of our first consultation, we begin working together on your defence and prepare you for what’s to come. We understand that this is a stressful time in your life and will do everything in our power to provide you with some semblance of peace of mind. We know that there are two sides to every story and we’re committed to fighting for you. 

What to Do if You Have Been Charged with Sexual Assault

Remain Silent And Speak To A Lawyer 

If you’ve been charged with a sexual offence, it is vital that you exercise your right to consult with a lawyer immediately. More importantly, you should invoke your right to remain silent, and refrain from making any statements to the police.

The role of the police is to gather evidence of the crime they’re investigating to aid the prosecutor in securing a conviction. Therefore, you should not be discussing this matter with anyone other than your lawyer. 

Prepare Your Defence 

Generally speaking, if you have a good recollection about the events in question, it is usually a good idea that you reflect upon your version of events, and especially take note of:

  • Potential witnesses;
  • Messages exchanged between you and the compainant;
  • Words that were exchanged between you and the complainant before, during, and after the events in question;
  • Every sexual act that took place (and how consent was obtained);
  • Why you believe that the complainant was consenting; 
  • Any other evidence that may be useful down the line;

STEP INTO OUR OFFICE

UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL OFFENCES AND WHAT TO EXPECT

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault (section 271 of the Criminal Code of Canada) involves any touching of a sexual nature done without the consent of the other party. This offence is far-reaching and spans anything from an unwanted kiss to sexual intercourse.

What defences are available for sexual assault?

When it comes to sexual assault in particular, the most common defences are: (1) that the sexual conduct in question never took place; (2) that the sexual conduct in question took place but that the complainant consented; (3) that the sexual conduct in question took place and the complainant did not consent but you had an honest but mistaken belief that the complainant had communicated their consent.

What happens if I’m found guilty of a sexual offence?

When it comes to sexual offences committed against minors, many of these offences carry mandatory minimum prison sentences. Of course, when it comes to sexual offences more generally, on top of the stigma that comes with a conviction, you may also need to contend with placement on the sex offenders’ registry. While the crime of sexual assault (s. 271) does not have a mandatory minimum sentence, there is a maximum sentence of ten years of incarceration and, in the post #MeToo era, prosecutors often seek jail time for these offences.

I’ve been charged with a sexual offence, how can this file be resolved?

Given the present legal landscape, the vast majority of sexual assault cases will likely end up going to trial. Unless you have ironclad evidence of your innocence (which is extremely unlikely), the prosecutors will likely not withdraw the charges, meaning that trial is almost inevitable in a scenario where you are unwilling to accept any responsibility. In the event that you are willing to plead guilty, depending on the nature of the accusation, there is a possibility to obtain a discharge through a contested sentence hearing or even a joint submission. However, given that most prosecutors seek rigid sentences, trial may be the best path forward in those cases as well. 

Facing criminal charges in Montreal or surrounding areas? Contact us now—we’re here to help!

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