Virtually any crime or offence of a sexual nature is quite serious. One of the significant consequences related to a conviction involving a sexual crime is sex offender registration in the National Sex Offender Registry. Ontario also maintains the Ontario Sex Offender Registry. The requirement to be a registered sex offender in Canada may be enforced for a convicted sex offender’s lifetime. A conviction for a sexual crime may also prohibit a person from acquiring specific professional licenses or working in certain geographic areas (i.e. near a school or playground).
There are also tremendous detrimental effects to the offender’s professional and personal reputation and stigma in the community. It goes without saying that the victim pays a very heavy price, but the accused also pays an emotional and psychological toll. If you have been accused of a sex crime, it is best to retain the services of a sexual assault criminal defence lawyer in Toronto, Kitchener, London or Windsor who can help.
Consent is About Clarity
According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, perceptions of consent among Canadians have become less accurate since 2015. Out of those who participated in the foundation’s study, a mere 28% fully understood what giving consent means.
The issue of consent is not complicated. Consent occurs when an individual gives permission by saying “yes,” or agrees to sexual activity with another individual. Consent does not have to be verbal. It can also be expressed through the actions of a person engaged in a particular activity. The matter becomes more complex when a person feels that she or he is not able to or does not have the right to say “no” or “stop” once the sexual activity has started, even though the individual has the ability to do so at any point in the encounter.
As you can see, the primary focus of consent should be full, open and honest communication. Be aware of verbal and non-verbal messages or cues that convey a partner’s desire to stop or proceed. Non-verbal cues that show your partner does not want to proceed could be in the form of a lack of response, minimal to no eye contact, crossing of the arms, or signs of discomfort. People can and will have second thoughts and change their mind. That is their choice and their choice only. If a person wants to stop, that decision should be immediately respected.
A criminal lawyer will advise you that the safest course to ensure that your partner is 100% consenting to sexual activity is make sure she or he has clearly verbalized their consent by saying “yes” and making sure their body language and reaction to the encounter is also saying “yes” at all times. Assuming you merely rely on a verbalized “yes” where there is a lack of consensual body language or merely relying on consensual body language without a spoken “yes”, could lead to you misinterpreting signals or body language and being charged with sexual assault. The consumption and effects of alcohol can also lead to you misinterpreting consensual signals. Further, at some point along the continuum of drunkenness or drug use, an intoxicated or drug impaired person does not have the capacity to consent. For example, a judge would likely find that person who is falling down drunk does not have the capacity to consent.
Be mindful that consent is a continuous process that can carry on or stop at any moment. If you are initiating a physical act ranging from hugging to contact of a sexual nature, it is your absolute responsibility to be aware of consensual signals or lack thereof along the way and react accordingly. “No” always means no whether the “no” is conveyed by words or body language.
You must remain cognizant of negative messages, as well. Verbal cues to listen for can include:
- “I think I drank too much.”
- “I don’t think I am ready.”
- “I don’t like that.”
- “That hurts.”
- “I am not sure if…”
Experienced Sexual Assault Lawyers in Toronto, the GTA, Kitchener, London and Windsor
You do not want the societal stigma of a sexual assault conviction and registration as a sex offender to follow you for the rest of your life. A conviction will damage your professional reputation and personal relationships. Do not leave any facet of your case in the hands of an overeager prosecutor. Contact the experienced criminal defence lawyers at Kruse Law immediately if you are accused of a sex crime.