The most serious of sexual assault related charges is aggravated sexual assault. An assault generally occurs when a person either intentionally applies or intentionally threatens to apply force against another person without the consent of the other person. Sexual assault is sexual contact with another person without their consent. When a person injures an alleged victim during the commission of a sexual assault, the injuries elevate the crime to aggravated sexual assault. Sexual assault becomes aggravated sexual assault when a person, in committing a sexual assault, wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant.
Penalties for Aggravated Sexual Assault
The penalties for being found guilty of aggravated sexual assault differ from sexual assault in that simple sexual assault carries a maximum or 6 months in prison if tried as a summary conviction offence and 10 years in prison if tried as an indictable offence. When the charge is aggravated sexual assault, the maximum penalty is life in prison.
The charges of aggravated sexual assault are outlined in Canada’s Criminal Code as follows:
According to section 273(1) of the Criminal Code, any person commits aggravated sexual assault if they wound, maim, disfigure or otherwise endanger the life of the complainant while committing a sexual assault. A person who commits aggravated sexual assault is guilty of an indictable offence. If the person uses a firearm in the commission of an aggravated sexual assault, and the assault is associated with a criminal organization, they may be sentenced to life in prison.
The minimum term of imprisonment for being found guilty for aggravated sexual assault is five years in the case of a first offence, and seven years for a second and subsequent offences. In other cases where a firearm is used in the commission of an aggravated sexual assault but not involving a criminal organization, the minimum sentence is four years in jail. If the complainant is under 16, the potential jail term for being found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of minor is a minimum of five years to a maximum of life in prison. In other aggravated assault circumstances, the maximum is life in prison.
For the purpose of determining if a conviction is a second or subsequent offence, there is a ten-year period from the date of the first conviction to the date of the next, after which the first conviction will not count as a prior offence. This statute of limitations can be vitally important in determining the length of the sentence you may face. Knowing these dates and using that information to your advantage could mean the difference between many years in prison.
To build a case for your innocence and acquittal, we often rely on expert witnesses, psychologists, and investigators to gather or contribute evidence and testify on your behalf. Similarly, we collect information and testimony pertaining to the credibility of your accuser. Even though our investigations into the complainant’s past sexual history is limited by Canadian rape shield laws, we can seek a preliminary hearing to record the complainant’s statements so that we can then refute upon cross-examination in court. We will leave no stone unturned in obtaining evidence to support your innocence. Even though every case is unique, in certain cases we can look to DNA and polygraph evidence to build your case. Our criminal defence lawyers will do what it takes to provide you with the most thorough and considered criminal defence possible. There are a number of defence strategies available to a person accused of aggravated sexual assault, as follows.
As with other sexual assault charges, there are a number of possible strategies available as a defence. Not every aggravated sexual assault happens on videotape and in broad daylight and the identity of the alleged sexual attacker can be challenged. When the complainant is discovered to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, specific memories of the alleged attack, including the identity of the alleged attacker can be called into question.
You May Have an Alibi
You may have an alibi that places you somewhere else at the exact time of the alleged assault. Virtually anywhere you could have been at the time of the alleged attack — at a coffee shop, taking money out of an ATM, or at home using your computer — can result in either a surveillance video tape or a search history that may be used in your defence. This is one of the reasons why you need a criminal defence lawyer with a team of investigators to work for you at once. The videotape, ATM or computer server logs that support your alibi need to be immediately secured before they become lost or destroyed.
Complainant was injured in some other manner
The injuries that the complainant claimed were caused by the alleged sexual assault may be fabricated or may have occurred in some other way. The Burden of Proof that the injuries were a direct result of a sexual attack falls on the complainant. Photographs of injuries can be “Photo shopped” into appearing more serious than they in fact are.
These are just a few of the many ideas we bring to the table as experienced and knowledgeable criminal defence lawyers.
Just because you are accused of aggravated sexual assault doesn’t mean that you are guilty. Consent is a valid argument as a defence strategy where no physical evidence is present. From unwanted touching to rape, the same rules that apply to granting consent in sexual assault charges apply to aggravated sexual assault. Unwanted sexual content, the absence of consent voluntarily and freely given is criminal. That said, consent is always a “he said, she said” element and the complainant must prove that no consent was given to the sexual encounter.
Since your freedom and good reputation is on the line, being accused of aggravated sexual assault must be taken seriously and dealt with immediately. Any delay in gathering evidence and building your defense could be detrimental to your chances in court. If not handled in a professional legal manner, the seriousness of these charges can ruin your reputation for the rest of your life.
The charge of aggravated sexual assault requires that we exercise the utmost in confidentiality because of the social stigma that you could be forced to endure, such as your having to register in the Canadian national Sex Offender Registry, if found guilty on this charge. In most cases, allegations of sexual assault are based on the word of the complainant and there is little or no physical evidence. However, a criminal proceeding can be commenced solely on the basis of a complaint and no hard evidence. Having to register as a sex offender, the slur on your name and reputation and most importantly, the potential for a lengthy prison term, are just some of the reasons why it is of utmost importance that you seek representation by an expert sexual assault defence lawyer to defend against the charge of aggravated sexual assault.