1) I’ve been Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault. What do I do?
If your first instinct is to say “I am innocent, and the truth will prevail”, then pause for a moment. We, at the Criminal Law Team, believe that the only way for truth and justice to prevail is to follow the motto that “the best defence is a strong offence”.
A strong offence involves using all of our legal skills to analyze the circumstances of the case, and, relying on our team of experts and investigators, to uncover the real truth, i.e., exposing the lies perpetrated by the complainant and the motive for making the false allegations.
2) How do I deal with False Accusations of Sexual Assault?
As mentioned in #1 above, we tackle these falsities head on by getting to the root of the lie: the complainant’s motive to lie. In many cases, there are family law proceedings in place, and the complainant uses the false accusations to get the upper hand in the proceedings. In other cases, the complainant may be a compulsive liar seeking attention or simply revenge for the loss of a love affair.
There are an unlimited number of reasons why people lie and bring false charges of sexual assault or sexual interference. The devil is in the details, and we love to explore every aspect of the case with our clients. We are experts at uncovering lies, and we relish the opportunity to expose liars for what they are.
3) What Is The 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.
Related Article: Sexual Interference With A Minor
4) What are the consequences of being convicted of Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is a charge that covers a broad range of illegal acts. For this reason, it is one of many charges classified as a hybrid offence. This means that depending on the particulars of what happened, the Crown Attorney can decide whether to prosecute the offence as an indictable offence (more serious), or as a summary offence (less serious). Since the seriousness of the charges against the accused can vary, it is very important to get proper legal advice before speaking to police or going to court. Whether the Crown decides to proceed by indictable or summary offence will have a large impact on the potential consequences.
Where the Crown proceeds by way of indictment, an accused can be sentenced to up to ten (10) years of imprisonment, with a one-year minimum if the complainant was under sixteen years of age at the time.
Where the Crown proceeds summarily, an accused will be facing up to eighteen (18) months of imprisonment, with a ninety-day minimum if the complainant was under sixteen.
The National Sex Offender Registry
Regardless of how a charge is prosecuted, when an accused is convicted of a “designated” sexual offence within the Criminal Code, they will also be placed on the National Sex Offender Registry and be required to update their information with police on an annual basis, or any time they change their address or legal name. “Designated offences” include: sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation, child pornography, and aggravated sexual assault among other similar offences. Persons placed on the Registry are required to remain registered for either ten years, twenty years, or for life depending on the particulars of the offence. While the public does not have access to the National Sex Offender Registry, all accredited Canadian police agencies have access. Being convicted of a sexual offence and subsequently being placed on the Registry can have lasting effects on a person’s ability to obtain employment or travel internationally.
5) Do I need to talk to a Lawyer before Sexual Assault charges are laid?
It is so very important to retain an experienced criminal defence lawyer before you talk to the police about a current or historical sexual assault allegation. We at The Criminal Law Team prepare our clients for the onslaught of questions the police will throw at them when they are in the lonely confines of a police interrogation room. If you think you know how to talk your way out of a police interrogation, then think twice! You should know that 99% of the time the police have already decided to charge you, and, they only want to talk to you to get you to confess, or to lie about a fact that will be used at your trial to discredit your testimony. Click here to call us for your free consultation.
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.
It is only after reviewing the case, and presenting its deficiencies and contradictions to the Prosecution that we will have the chance to persuade them to drop the charges. In almost every case, we strongly advise our clients to remain completely silent in these circumstances, particularly where they feel they have been falsely accused of a sexual assault crime. And in fact, we go one step further: since the police are entitled to question a suspect concerning a charge or charges of sexual assault, we sit down with our clients and teach them how to deal with the tricks and deceptive approaches (such as use of “The Reid Technique”) that police investigators may throw at them in order to get them to “fess up”. We make sure that the client says nothing, especially when the police may not respect their right to remain silent.
6) But What About 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, and we do.
7) How To Get Sexual Assault Charges Dropped?
Many people are concerned about being falsely accused, and their primary focus is to have sexual assault charges dropped. Of course at The Criminal Law Team, our number 1 objective is to obtain a successful result for our clients in the shortest possible time . This means avoiding a trial, where possible. In many instances, after reviewing the disclosure with our clients, and pointing out the problems in the prosecutions case, especially issues surrounding the credibility of the complainant, we have had sexual assault charges dropped for our clients.
8) If The Charges Are Not Dropped, Then What? How Do I Defend A Sexual Assault Charge?
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.
The Criminal Law Team will work tirelessly for you to ensure that your reputation, employment prospects, and ability to travel freely are not tarnished by false accusations.
9) Is There A Statute Of Limitations On Sexual Assault In Canada?
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.
If you would like to discuss your situation in confidence with one of our experienced criminal lawyers, please click on the button below and call or email us today for your free confidential case evaluation. We have helped many clients in your situation, click here to see what they are saying about us.
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)