Sexual Assault Lawyers Toronto
The Criminal Code of Canada contains a number of sex-related offences, including sexual assault, internet sex crimes such as possession and distribution of child pornography, luring and voyeurism. Other types of sexual assault offences include sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation. As well, other sex-related offences are common bawdy house offences, and obscenity allegations.
Sexual assault charges are of varying degrees of seriousness, and include aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault causing bodily harm, and sexual assault with a weapon. It is not uncommon for sex-related charges to be included with additional allegations of some form of domestic assault.
Defence of consent
A potentially successful defence to a sexual assault charge is that the alleged victim had consented to the conduct, or that the accused mistakenly believed the complainant had consented. Consumption of alcohol or drugs and/or a motivation to lie on the part of the complainant are common weapons used by the sexual assault lawyers in advancing a defence that the complainant consented to the alleged sexual assault. Recently, we successfully defended a client charged with sexual assault by convincing the judge that the complainant consented to the sexual act, by showing that not only did she lie when she said she did not consent, but that she probably would not have consented if she was not intoxicated at the time.
While previous sexual activity by the complainant, either with the accused or others, is not automatically admitted into evidence at trial, it is often relevant to an important issue in the case. The admission of this type of evidence requires a complicated application to the trial judge, convincing the judge that the prior sexual activity of the complainant “has significant probative value that is not substantially outweighed by the danger of prejudice to the proper administration of justice.” In a number of sexual assault cases, the Criminal Law Team has successfully argued for this type of evidence to be admitted. In one such case, we were able to prove that the complainant had sex with our client at an earlier time, and this convinced the judge that the complainant was lying about not consenting at the time and place alleged in her accusation.
Age of consent
The age of consent varies depending on the offence and the age difference between the accused and the complainant. For example, the age of consent to sexual activity is 16 years, unless the complainant is 14 or 15 years of age and the accused is less than 5 years older. So, a 14 year old can consent to sexual activity with a 19 year old, as long as there is less than 5 years difference in their ages (days and months are relevant to this determination).
With respect to the offence of sexual exploitation, the complainant must be 16 or 17 years of age, and the accused must be “in a position of trust or authority” towards the complainant. These are just a few examples of the variations possible in the age of consent.
Historical sex assault and sex abuse charges
There is no statute of limitations on most sexual offences, and some accused persons face allegations that are decades old. These “historical sexual assaults” pose a number of problems. For example, people’s memories fade over time, and are often influenced by therapy sessions, substance abuse, and “the blame game.” There are many ways to defend the accused, including alleging “false memory syndrome”, where memories may have been altered by outside influences. A successful private records application to the court can convince a judge that psychiatric, counseling, or other records may provide evidence that the complainant’s memory is either “false”, or is motivated by ill will or hatred of the accused that is unrelated to the allegation before the court.
Forensic (scientific) evidence
The prosecution often relies upon forensic evidence, such as DNA and hair sample analysis, to prove identity. This evidence can make a huge difference to the outcome for the individual who is charged with sexual assault or related sexual crimes. Bodily fluids which may have been left by the accused at or near a crime scene can be analyzed for DNA and compared to known specimens to determine if there is a match based on statistical probabilities. Television programs, such as CSI Miami, often portray such evidence as infallible. But expert witnesses can distinguish the reality of the courtroom from TV fiction. This is why it is important for sexual assault lawyers to retain such experts in serious cases in order to successfully challenge this type of forensic evidence.
“I (do not) confess”- Consult us before you talk to the police
Without any forensic evidence, especially regarding young complainants, the police usually consider it critically important to obtain an incriminating statement (effectively, a confession) from a suspect. Often, there is no evidence available to police investigators other than the statement and intended testimony of the complainant.
If you are accused of or suspected of having committed a sexual assault, it is extremely important that you know your right to remain silent and your right to consult with legal counsel before giving any statement to the police (this includes verbal, written or statements electronically recorded in any manner). The police will not cease questioning you just because you exercise your right to remain silent. Sexual assault lawyers in Toronto can prepare you for the different methods police use to “make you talk”. Contact the Criminal Law Team right away to increase your chances of a successful outcome. See what our other clients are saying about us. We can help you too!
I came to Stephen Hebscher with a somewhat irregular case. Both my spouse and I had been mutually charged with domestic assault, a legal situation that neither of us had wished upon each other. While my spouse's lawyer had been content to seek mutually binding peace bonds, Stephen was able to get in front of the case and negotiate a withdrawal of both of our charges- the best possible outcome on BOTH sides of the table – once we successfully completing the PARs program. I remain entirely pleased with Stephen's competency, professionalism and accessibility, and would not hesitate to recommend him as a criminal defence lawyer. L.A.
Mr. Hebscher: I would like to thank you for your excellent representation of me in relation to the domestic assault charges that you worked so hard to have withdrawn. You have made a critical difference in my future and I am very happy with the outcome. I also appreciate your hard work, and the extra time and effort you have put in to deal with all the other issues that came along. I thank you for being a phone call away (or email) even when you did not have to be. I will gladly recommend your services to any of my friends or family should they ever need it. I am very grateful for what you have done.
I am impressed especially after our meeting on Monday – I was resigned that something bad would befall me, so I am very blessed to have this outcome. I thank you for the hard work that you have put into this case, and the dedication on getting me this fantastic outcome! I am so glad that we retained you as my lawyer! You have done an outstanding job and allowed me to now rebuild my life. Thank you, Bruce Karten.
Dave B. (Ajax, Ontario)
We were referred to Stephen Hebscher when our child was in need of legal representation. He was charged with sexual assault. As parents, we were quite frightened for our child but Mr. Hebscher was the calm voice of reason. We are very grateful to Mr. Hebscher for the excellent results he got for our child, as the charges were dropped.
J.N. (Toronto, Ontario)
Mr. Hebscher is a very professional lawyer who takes pride in his work and because of this the end result was the judge ruling me not guilty and I got my innocence and life back. My family and I would like to thank you again Stephen Hebscher for doing a wonderful job and also being a very supportive man.
Chris T. (Scarborough, Ontario)
I am happy to report that Bruce’s superior negotiation strategy and ability to present facts effectively helped convince the Crown to reduce his position. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bruce for getting my charge withdrawn and keep my criminal record clean.
J.S (Toronto, Ontario)
I looked and found Barrister Stephen Hebscher I introduced myself and my case and after listening to all details he was able to ensure me that my case would go well. All charges against me have be thrown out and my life is back to normal.
Blair H. (North York)
Bruce ...The care and concern you showed us during our dealings certainly helped to reduce the stress we were under. I would recommend you without a second thought. Your winning record is a bonus as well. My husband and myself can't thank you enough for all you've done for our family.
Debi T. (Mississauga, Ontario)
Dear Mr. Hebscher...There are not enough words to express my appreciation for your...giving me your undivided attention at all times, work in my case with your heart and soul, that makes you "ONE OF A KIND" lawyer.
Ahmed A. (Brampton, Ontario)
Mr. Bruce Karten was able to help to extricate me from a very serious criminal case containing severe charges, including weapons –threat to use weapons, death threat, harassment,etc. He succeeded in winning my case. I was discharged; was able to keep my career, and no criminal record. This was a tremendous accomplishment, and I am very appreciative of that.
Nickolai V. (Toronto, Ontario)
Again, from the depth of our hearts we sincerely thank you very much for being my Counsel on this case. We now can say you are the BEST and we will surely recommend you to our friends and anybody here we know who needs the best Lawyer in Ontario. You have done an extremely good job and we are very happy with the outcome this morning.
Roman A. (Markham, Ontario)
Mr. Hebscher was the only lawyer who gave me hope and made me feel like I had a real fighting chance. I am extremely satisfied with the quick results that he delivered, and I am happy to say that he was able to convince the court to drop the charges against me and clear my name.
Tina M. (Toronto, Ontario)