TRIGGER WARNING – The content herein may be triggering or disturbing to individuals who underwent any kind of sexual violence in the past.
Facing sexual assault charges is one thing. But facing such charges against underaged individuals have far worse consequences for the accused. From societal scrutiny to seclusion and professional barriers, there is a lot the accused may lose as a result of such charges.
If you are facing sexual interference charges in Edmonton and fear a conviction, hire a reputed sexual assault defence lawyer in Edmonton. Such a professional will not only gather all the necessary evidence to strengthen your case but will also draft a flawless defence strategy to help you navigate the Canadian judicial system.
In Edmonton, sexual interference charges are a concern as they carry severe legal and social consequences. Conviction of sexual interference can result in lengthy prison sentences and registration as a sex offender. However, the impact of these charges goes beyond legal penalties.
Accusations of sexual interference can result in significant reputational and social consequences, with allegations often affecting a person’s job, personal relationships, and community standing. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the possible defences you can work out with your criminal defence lawyer.
In this blog, we will provide an overview of sexual interference charges in Edmonton, including their definition, penalties, and possible defences.
Sexual Interference As Defined In The Criminal Code Of Canada
According to Section 151 of the Code, sexual interference is defined as a type of sexual offence that involves touching another individual under the age of 16 with a body part or another object with sexual intent. Acts that may count as sexual interference include fondling, kissing, digital penetration, sodomy, etc.
From the discussion above, we can easily deduce that the constituent elements of the offence or the actus reus (the guilty act) are:
- Direct or indirect touching
- Victim’s age (under 16).
The above is what the Crown must prove beyond any reasonable doubt against the accused.
Accordingly, the Crown must also prove that the criminal intent or mens rea (guilty mind) was also present:
- The accused intentionally touched the victim
- The accused was aware that the victim was underaged
- And the touch was for sexual purposes
Penalties For Sexual Interference In Alberta
The penalties for sexual interference charges can be severe, with a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison and mandatory registration on the national sex offender registry. The consequences of a conviction can also include significant social and reputational damage, loss of employment, and difficulty obtaining future employment, as well as restrictions on travel and other activities.
Consent As A Possible Defence
Many may think that mistaken consent may be a good defence here, but however this is not the case. It’s important to note that, in Canada, the age of consent for sexual activity is 16 years. This means that any sexual activity with a person under the age of 16 is illegal and considered a criminal offence, regardless of whether or not the minor consents to the activity.
Also Read: Legal Age Of Consent And Sexual Assault In Alberta
If the accused is in their 20s, they can’t obtain consent for a 16 year old, so this defence becomes irrelevant.
Possible Defences That A Sexual Defence Lawyer Can Utilize
If you or someone you know is facing sexual interference charges in Edmonton, it’s essential to understand the possible defences that can be raised. Here are some of the most common defences that can be raised against sexual interference charges:
Mistaken Belief Of Age
Section 150.1 (4) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides a defence if the accused believed the minor was of legal age or had reasonable grounds to believe so. However, the accused must prove that they took all reasonable steps to ensure the complainant was over the age of consent.
Lack Of Intent
This defence can be used if it can be demonstrated that the accused did not have the intention to engage in sexual activity with a minor. For example, if the accused unintentionally collided with a minor, resulting in a touch that might appear sexual.
This is where the mens rea comes into play, and the Crown must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused’s act was intentional. Thus, your chosen sexual assault lawyer will counter by showing that there is a reasonable doubt to believe otherwise.
If the accused is less than five years older than the minor and the sexual activity is consensual, this defence can be used. However, this defence only applies in specific circumstances and requires a careful examination of the facts of the case. The accused must show that they took reasonable steps to ensure that the minor was capable of consenting to the sexual activity.
Challenging The Evidence
If there are issues with the evidence against the accused, such as inconsistencies in witness statements or problems with the forensic evidence, this can be used as a defence.
Clearly, creating a flawless defence strategy against sexual interference is quite complex and requires profound legal knowledge. For this reason, you must higher a reputed criminal defense lawyer boasting a high record of providing high-end defence services for sexual assault charges.
About Slaferek Law
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Need a lawyer who can help defend you against sexual assault charges? Contact us now.