The Complexities of Calgary Sexual Assault Charges and Charter Rights: Part 1

I've written extensively on this blog about common assault charges in Calgary, sometimes also called "simple assault," and how easily one can find themselves accused of this potentially serious charge. Because it includes gestures of intimidation and even spoken threats of violence in some circumstances, criminal charges of assault are some of the most common charges laid against Calgary citizens every year.

Defence against charges of criminal assault can be a complex affair, often pitting the word of the alleged victim or complainant against that of the accused, and a criminal defence lawyer can be instrumental in helping to present evidence that might exonerate you in instances of false accusation, self-defence, or other misunderstandings that result in this criminal charge. Criminal lawyers cannot, however, directly influence the potential social and familial fallout of assault charges.

There are frequently complex emotions involved in assault charges; the majority of assault charges in Calgary take place between individuals who know each other and are frequently family members or are romantically involved. Whatever the facts of a given assault charge or criminal case turn out to be, there are often "sides" taken by family, friends, and larger Calgary communities.

These issues, and their potential legal implications for cases in the Calgary courts become all the more important and complex when dealing with charges of sexual assault.

Understanding Sexual Assault vs Common Assault in Calgary

The same basic law that creates the crime of common assault in Calgary is also largely responsible for defining sexual assault. Section 265 of the Criminal Code of Canada begins:

"This section applies to all forms of assault, including sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm and aggravated sexual assault."

It then goes on to give the definition I've quoted and commented on many times in the past. Essentially, any unwanted touching that is intentional or any threats of such touching through gesture or voice constitute assault.

When the touching or threat of touching is sexual in nature, the charge can become one of sexual assault. There are some commonalities between sexual assault and common assault charges and their defence, but there are also some significant differences. Some of these differences include the way Calgary judges, crown prosecutors, and juries perceive sexual assault charges as opposed to common assault charges.

While the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms establishes that all those accused of crimes throughout Canada, including right here in Calgary, will be treated as innocent until proven guilty. This only applies to officers of the court, though, and not to the public at large, and sometimes the distinction isn't perfect. This could make sexual assault charges in Calgary especially difficult to face and complex when it comes to your defence.

Defence for Sexual Assault Charges in Calgary

If you have been charged with a sexual assault in the Greater Calgary Area and would like confidential, compassionate, and experienced assistance from a legal professional, contact Calgary criminal defence lawyer today.

This article is Part 1 of a three-part series.