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Sexual Assault Lawyers

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Sexual Assault Lawyers in Toronto, GTA, Ontario

Sexual assault charges can affect the rest of your life

If you’re found guilty of sexual assault charges in the Toronto area, your life could change forever.

Penalties can be severe, and include lengthy imprisonment and mandatory placement on the Ontario Sex Offender Registry.

If you’ve been charged with a sexual assault in Ontario, the sooner you engage a lawyer the sooner you can begin mounting an effective defence to get the best outcome possible. Mass Tsang’s experienced lawyers are here to help.

Members of:
Defence Strategies

Depending upon the nature of charges, your lawyer will use the following strategies as warranted by evidence and other factors:

Seek to have
charges dropped
01
Establish and
present evidence
of your innocence
02
Challenge the
prosecution’s
physical evidence
03
Challenge
witness testimony
04
Argue that
Charter Rights
were breached
05
Argue innocence
based on consent
06
Negotiate and
plea for favorable
sentencing terms
if convicted
07
Appeal
the conviction
if warranted
08
Argue against
inclusion on
the sex offender
registry
09

Sexual
Assault

Can include everything from inappropriate touching to rape. Penalties, that can include jail time and mandatory inclusion on the sexual offender database, with a guilty finding are typically based on how extensive the physical element of the assault was and other factors relating to the accused and relationship with the victim.

If you or a loved one is facing sexual assault charges, contact our lawyers at Mass Tsang as soon as possible to begin mounting your best defense.

Read on to learn more about how Ontario courts address sexual assault cases, the potential penalties, and how your Mass Tsang lawyer can help you successfully beat the charges.

Call Now at 416-781-1148 or

WHY MASS TSANG

1,000+ successful defences

Mass Tsang has a proven track record of achieving over 1,000 complete dismissals of charges resulting in a clean record, as well as reductions in charges/penalties.

In depth knowledge of the criminal justice system

Unlike many law firms, our sexual assault lawyers practice solely in criminal law, allowing us to provide highly effective representation for clients facing criminal charges, from minor infractions to serious offences.

30 years of combined experience

You benefit from the knowledge, opinion and experience of a team of six highly skilled criminal lawyers. After years working with the same prosecutors and judges in the Toronto area, we can provide tailored defence strategies to give you the best chance of success.

Available when you need us

Fighting a criminal charge can be a stressful time and you don’t want to feel alone. We are available for weekends, late evenings, short notice appointments, and provide constant updates about each step of the case.

Flat rate fees and flexible payment plans

Transparent and affordable flat rate fees, with no hidden costs, and flexible payment plans tailored to each client s unique financial situation.

What is Sexual Assault?

As per the Criminal Code of Canada, sexual assault is a form of assault that is sexual in nature. It encompasses a wide range of offences – both with or without physical contact. To constitute a sexual assault, these three conditions must exist:

The Use of Force

Force, in this case, does not necessarily have to involve the use of coercion or physical violence. Once the person touches or threatens to touch another person, that can already be deemed as an application of force.

Sexual Context

It occurs when another person's sexual integrity is violated and damaged. The basis for determining if an assault is sexual is the circumstances that surround the attack, which parts of the body were touched, spoken words, specific acts and the perpetrator's intention.

Lack of Consent

A voluntary agreement, clearly expressed in words or conduct, to participate in sexual activity by the person concerned is consent. The lack of, on the other hand, is the distinction between sexual contact and sexual assault – in as far as the law is concerned. Consent cannot be given if a person is incapable due to intoxication, a disability, or other reasons. Consent also cannot be given if the person is in a situation or position of trust, power, or authority is being abused. The law further considers a relationship of dependency, age (16 years or younger), as grounds to constitute the lack of consent.

WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT?

LEVEL 1
Up to 10 years in prison

Any form of sexual activity forced on another person, which incudes sexual activity without consent, body contact that is sexual. The victim may or may not have minor physical injuries.

LEVEL 2
Up to 14 years in prison

A sexual assault involving the use or threat to use a weapon. Threatening victim’s friends or family members, causing bodily harm to the victim, or committing the sexual assault with another person.

LEVEL 3
Up to life in prison

Also known as aggravated sexual assault, this is the most severe case of sexual assault. Involves maiming, disfiguring or endangering the life of the victim.

If you or loved has been charged with sexual assault, time is the essence

Speak to one of our lawyers today to mount the best defence possible and protect your future.

Call Now at 416-781-1148 or

Clients Testimonials

What are the common defences against
sexual assault charges?

The circumstances vary in any sexual assault case, and it takes the right criminal lawyer to use the specific details to craft the best defence possible. However, there are typically five main defence strategies.

01

Factual Innocence

Once you retain the services of a Mass Tsang, the sexual assault lawyer will try to gather facts and evidence to show that you were not there, could not have applied force to the complainant, and more.

02

Identity

The sexual assault lawyer will challenge the accuser to positively identify the accused person of committing the sexual assault. Do note that forensic tools may be used to confirm the identity of the attacker.

03

Sex Did Not Occur

The burden of proving that there was a sexual activity is on the accuser. In this defence strategy, it often comes down to a battle of credibility. For this reason, you should retain a sexual assault lawyer in Toronto who is well– versed in defending this type of case, one of which is gathering evidence to put the testimonies of the accuser in doubt.

04

Consensual
Sexual Activity

In many sexual assault cases, it comes down to the distinction between a sexual activity or sexualassault with consent being the core issue. If there is, indeed, a sexual activity, then the criminaldefence lawyer will among others gather information and evidence to show that there wasconsent or discredit the accuser. Otherwise, consent may not matter if it cannot be shown that there was sexual activity.

05

Honest But Mistaken Belief

Yet another common defence that could be presented is that the mistaken belief in consent on the part of the accused. Arguing that the complainant consented has its limitations. For example, self-induced intoxication does not qualify. The best Toronto sexual assault lawyer would argue on behalf of the client that there was a reasonable belief the complainant was consenting.

What types of sexual assault
can be filed against you?

Can include everything from inappropriate touching to rape. Penalties, that can include jail time and mandatory inclusion on the sexual offender database, with a guilty finding are typically based on how extensive the physical element of the assault was and other factors relating to the accused and relationship with the victim.

Sexual Assault with Physical Contact

The worst of sexual assault crimes involves physical contact. It may be consummated (penetration) or not and includes other acts.

  • Rape or Sexual Relations with Penetration
  • Attempted Rape
  • Sexual Touching/Contact

Sexual Assault without Physical Contact

This form of assault may not involve physical contact but is still sexual in nature. It encompasses these manifestations:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Exposure to sexual acts by force such as pornography or actual sexual activity
  • Exhibiting or exposing genitalia
  • Taking photos or making videos or other recordings of a child in sexual nature
  • Inciting or forcing a child to touch own body or masturbate

Sexual Assaults Based on Perpetrator and Victim Relationship

  • Intrafamilial Sexual Abuse
    The accused is a member of immediate or extended family.
  • Extrafamilial Sexual Abuse
    The accused is not a member of the immediate or extended family but an acquaintance or a stranger.
  • Sexual Assault in Conjugal Context
    Spousal rape, a form of spousal violence, committed between partners of all ages. Partners can be married, in a civil or de facto union, or dating.
  • Sexual Misconduct
    Physical and mental health professionals who take advantage of the professional relationship by having a sexual relation, making inappropriate remarks or gestures that are sexual in nature, or committing acts that are derogatory to the dignity of the profession as defined by the relevant professional code could be charged with this form of sexual assault. Even intimate relationships that may be mutually desired and egalitarian fall under this category.
Our Team

Successful Sexual Assault Cases

FAQ
What you might be wondering

In the context of sexual assault, consent is outlined in section 273.1 of the Criminal Code. It implies that the person involved willingly agreed to participate in the sexual act in question. This agreement must be explicitly indicated through the words or actions of the person giving consent.

It's crucial that consent is given at the time of the sexual activity. It must be continuous and can be revoked at any point by the person giving it. Prior consent does not imply ongoing or future consent for sexual acts.

According to section 273.1(2) of the Criminal Code, consent is not valid if:

  • The consent for the sexual activity was given by someone other than the person involved;
  • The person giving consent is unconscious;
  • The person is incapable of giving consent;
  • The accused exploits their position of power, trust, or authority to persuade the person to engage in the act;
  • The person clearly communicated, either verbally or through their actions, their refusal to participate in the sexual activity; or
  • The person initially consented but later communicated their desire not to continue with the sexual activity.

Upon arrest, officers are obligated to inform you of your right to counsel. This right enables you to consult with and appoint a specialist following your arrest. Exercising this right and seeking legal advice before interacting with the police is highly advisable.

Depending on the specifics of the assault and your personal history (such as a criminal record), you may either be released by the police or held for a bail hearing. The police have various release mechanisms, all requiring your attendance in court alongside your attorney. If released by the police, conditions are often attached through an undertaking, which might include restrictions like not contacting the victim or avoiding certain locations.

Sexual assault is classified as a hybrid offence, giving the Crown the choice to proceed either summarily or by indictment. However, until the Crown decides, all hybrid offences are treated as indictable. Therefore, you are required to visit a police station for fingerprinting before your initial court appearance.

If held for bail, you must appear before a judicial officer within 24 hours of the arrest. A sexual assault attorney not only advises you on interactions with the police but also works on securing your release if detained.

In court for bail, a sexual assault lawyer from Toronto can negotiate with the Crown regarding your release conditions and propose a bail plan. This plan often involves one or more "sureties"—individuals who agree to be responsible for you in the community and pledge a certain amount of money if you fail to comply with your release conditions. The role of a surety is significant, and a skilled criminal lawyer can explain this role and prepare them for court.

Everyone is entitled to reasonable bail, which includes fair conditions and surety amounts. Reasonableness also implies that bail should not be denied without just cause.

The Crown may approve your release based on the bail plan. However, if they have concerns about the plan, the nature of the assault, your likelihood of reoffending, your compliance with conditions (especially if you have previously breached bail), etc., they might oppose your bail. A contested bail leads to a bail hearing, where the Crown is required to justify why detaining you is in the public interest. There are situations where the accused needs to prove why their detention is unwarranted.

There are three grounds for denying bail: the risk of fleeing (primary ground), threat to public safety (secondary ground), and maintaining confidence in the justice system (tertiary ground), which considers the seriousness of allegations and the strength of the Crown’s case. The court evaluates factors like community ties, personal circumstances, criminal history, the offence, and the strength of the bail plan and sureties.

In determining your release, the court also decides on necessary conditions to address concerns, such as ensuring court attendance and preventing further offences. These conditions can be strict and may include surety supervision, curfews or house arrest, substance abstention, mandatory counselling, no contact with specific individuals, and travel restrictions.

The Crown and court must adhere to the "ladder principle," as reinforced by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Antic (2017), implying the imposition of the least restrictive conditions unless more stringent ones are warranted. A lawyer can advocate for less restrictive bail conditions and argue against unnecessary detention.

If bail is denied, you remain in custody until trial or resolution, though you can request a bail review at the Superior Court. Successfully obtaining bail can be challenging, and an experienced criminal defence lawyer can significantly improve your chances of release.

It's crucial to understand that violating bail conditions can lead to additional charges and potential revocation of your bail.

Sexual assault is gravely regarded in the legal system, and the severity of this crime is mirrored in the potential penalties for a conviction of sexual assault.

Should the Crown opt for summary proceedings:

  • A conviction for sexually assaulting an individual over 16 years old may result in a maximum sentence of 18 months.
  • A conviction for sexually assaulting someone below 16 years of age could lead to a maximum sentence of 2 years less a day.

In cases where the Crown proceeds by indictment:

  • For a conviction of sexual assault against someone over 16, the maximum sentence can be up to 10 years.
  • Convicting someone of sexually assaulting a person under 16 years can carry a maximum sentence of 14 years, with a minimum sentence of 1 year.

Additional orders often accompany a conviction for sexual assault, such as a DNA order, a section 161 order (applicable if the complainant is under 16), and a SOIRA order (relating to the Sex Offender Registry). These orders can significantly impact your life even after the sentencing. Depending on the gravity of the assault, there may be possibilities for milder sentences and alternative resolution methods. A legal professional is best equipped to inform you about potential repercussions and to vigorously strive for the most favorable outcome in your situation.

The specifics of your trial, including the extent of evidence gathering and case preparation required, can significantly influence the expense of your legal defense. In Canada, the typical hourly rate for a lawyer's services is around $75. While some lawyers offer pro-bono services, this is relatively rare in criminal cases where you are the defendant.

It's important to have a detailed discussion with your lawyer about the anticipated costs of your defense beforehand. If you're unable to afford the defense costs upfront, you might have alternatives such as accessing public defense assistance or arranging a payment plan.

Being listed on the Sex Offenders Registry is a common part of the sentencing for many sexual assault convictions. Should you be convicted of such a crime, you will likely be required to register as a sex offender within your province. This registration typically spans 10 years and can significantly affect your employment opportunities and residential choices. Since this information is publicly accessible, employers can easily discover your status on the registry.

Additionally, if you are involved in certain industries, you will be obligated to disclose your registration as a sex offender. Being on this registry can profoundly affect your financial stability and personal life for many years following your conviction.

The age of consent refers to the minimum age at which an individual is legally recognized as capable of consenting to sexual activities. In Canada, this age is presently set at 16 years old. Nonetheless, individuals under 18 years old are not legally able to consent to sexual activities with anyone who holds a position of trust or authority over them.

After being released by the police or undergoing a bail hearing, a legal expert can begin to formulate an effective defense strategy for your case.

Your attorney will request from the Crown full disclosure of all evidence pertinent to your case. The Crown is legally required to share this evidence with your legal counsel, whether or not it is intended for use in court. This practice of disclosure is a cornerstone of the criminal justice system, ensuring your right to a fair trial and equipping you with the necessary information for a comprehensive defense. Employing a sexual assault defense attorney is beneficial, as certain evidence may only be disclosed to a legal representative. Without an attorney, you might have to personally coordinate with the Crown to access this evidence, which can be a lengthy process.

Disclosure may encompass extensive documents, including hundreds or thousands of pages, along with lengthy police interviews and surveillance videos. Your lawyer will meticulously examine these materials, utilizing them to strongly advocate on your behalf.

Following the review of the disclosure, your lawyer will initiate steps to progress the case. A Crown pre-trial (CPT) is usually arranged, allowing both the defense and the Crown to discuss case details and the Crown’s stance. The CPT can pave the way for additional dialogues and negotiations. In some instances, a judicial pre-trial (JPT) may also occur, offering a judge's input in a less formal environment.

If you have hired a lawyer, they will represent you at both the CPT and JPT without your presence. Their expertise and experience are crucial at this juncture. Without a lawyer, communicating with the Crown can be more challenging, and your JPT will likely occur in open court, not in the judge’s chambers. You would have to self-advocate, adding undue stress to an already demanding situation.

Multiple court appearances may precede the setting of a trial date or entering a plea. An attorney can clarify the purpose of these appearances and may even attend on your behalf, easing your burden.

Should the Crown opt for indictment and the case proceeds to trial, you will need to decide on your trial mode. Options include trial by a provincial court judge, by a judge alone in the Superior Court, or by a judge and jury in the Superior Court. In cases of sexual assault against a person under 16, which could result in a 14-year sentence, you are also entitled to a preliminary inquiry. This inquiry serves as a mini-trial to ascertain if there’s enough evidence for a full trial. If the judge concludes there’s insufficient evidence, you will be discharged. The decisions regarding trial mode and the preliminary inquiry are strategic and benefit greatly from the guidance and advice of legal professionals navigating this complex process.

Several common defense strategies are often employed in sexual assault cases in Canada. These defenses are most compelling when supported by witness testimonies or solid evidence that disproves the charges or shows they are mistakenly attributed to the wrong individual.

In cases where the trial hinges on conflicting statements from both parties, it can be challenging for a judge to discern the true sequence of events.

  1. Mistaken Identity
    It's crucial to accurately identify the alleged perpetrator of the sexual assault. Forensic methods, such as DNA analysis and fingerprinting, may be necessary to determine the true offender. This approach can effectively counter false accusations, as forensic evidence can conclusively establish the identity of the attacker.
  2. Denial of the Sexual Act
    The accused may assert that no sexual activity occurred between the involved parties. This defense often leads to a conflict of credibility, as it typically becomes a matter of one person's word against the other's. However, corroborating evidence from interviews and DNA analysis can reinforce this defense.
  3. Consent Was Given
    Consent, or the lack thereof, is usually a focal point in sexual assault trials. The crux of such a case is the absence of consent for the sexual act. If consent was provided, the incident does not constitute sexual assault. However, this defense can be complicated, especially in situations where the involved party was too intoxicated to give consent, lacked the mental capacity for consent, or if the complainant is under 16 or withdrew consent during the act.
  4. Honest Mistake in Belief of Consent
    Another possible defense is claiming that the accused was under the mistaken belief that consent was given. While this is a challenging argument in most sexual assault cases, there may be situations where the complainant's behavior could lead to a misconception about consent.

The duration of the investigation process for your case may be more extended than anticipated. Typically, evidence and samples pertinent to the investigation are gathered within 72 hours after charges are filed against you. However, processing this evidence, obtaining testimony from witnesses and experts, and securing statements from all involved parties can span several weeks.

After the investigation concludes, setting a trial date is the next step. You may find yourself waiting several months for the trial, even though the evidence has been collected and is accessible to those involved in the sexual assault case. Such charges do not resolve quickly, emphasizing the importance of having competent legal representation to ensure that your case is effectively presented in court when the time comes.

The key factors a prosecutor is required to establish are:

  1. The defendant intentionally applied force to the victim.
  2. The victim did not consent to this use of force.
  3. The defendant was aware that the victim was not giving consent.
  4. The physical contact was of a sexual nature.

These criteria are intricate and challenging to prove. If a reasonable doubt arises concerning any of these elements, acquittal under the law is feasible. All these elements must be collectively established beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to substantiate even one of these elements, a conviction for sexual assault cannot be secured.

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