Consent and Sexual Assault Charges in Calgary

Sexual assault charges are taken quite seriously by the Calgary Police, Crown prosecutors, and the Calgary courts. The law is very clear on what constitutes sexual assault, and the punishments imposed are significant and potentially life-altering for anyone convicted of this crime. It is in every Calgary citizens best interests to know and understand these laws in order to effectively exercise their rights and to protect themselves against potential legal problems arising from their actions.

One of the most important legal considerations to understand when it comes to sexual assault charges in Calgary is the issue of consent. As clear as sexual assault laws may be, it is not always clear how these laws apply to any given case, and the issue of consent it central to many charges of sexual assault and many defences raised against such charges in the Calgary courts. Any sexual act that takes place with full mutual consent is not, by definition, an assault, while any sexual act that takes place without proper consent is, again by definition, a criminal instance of sexual assault.

What constitutes consent and whether or not it was given in particular instance are issues of key contention in many Calgary sexual assault cases.

Understanding Consent in Calgary Sexual Assault Cases

When it comes to the legal proceedings of a sexual assault case in Calgary, the issue of consent is one of both fact and of law. Saying consent is a matter of fact means that either consent was given or it wasn't, that fact exists, one way or the other, and it's up to the Crown prosecutor in a sexual assault case to demonstrate that consent wasn't given. The defence may or may not raise contention with the issue of consent, depending on the specific circumstances of a given case (the defence may contend that no sexual contact took place at all, for instance, in which case consent would not be an issue).

Saying consent is a matter of law means both that there is a legal definition of consent that helps establish the fact of whether or not consent was given, and that there are significant legal effects is consent was or was not given, namely that a criminal proceeding isn't warranted if full and proper consent was given.

According to section 226(3), consent cannot be considered as given if the complainant (i.e. the alleged victim of the sexual assault) was under physical threat, or physical threats against someone else were used to coerce the complainant's behavior. If fraud was used to obtain consent to sexual acts, that consent is also considered as though it had never been given, and charges of sexual assault can still move forward.
The Calgary courts may also consider a complainant's state of mind at the time of an alleged sexual assault in determining whether or not they were able to give proper consent. Mental disabilities, intoxication, and extreme emotional distress may all be used to undo any consent given at the time of the incident.

Help for Your Calgary Sexual Assault Defence

If you've been accused of sexual assault in or around  the Greater Calgary Area, it is in your best interest to partner with a dedicated criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Susan Karpa today for the compassionate and confidential assistance you need.