When a person is accused of sexual assault within a marriage or sexual assault against a partner, such charges should not be taken lightly simply because they are ‘within the family’. Law enforcement takes these charges seriously and for this reason, you require representation by an experienced sexual assault defence lawyer. Our law firm, Kruse Law, is passionate about providing a vigorous defence against any and all allegations of sexual assault in marriage or between intimate partners. We have handled many such cases in the past and brought each one to a successful conclusion for our clients. We welcome your phone call to discuss your unique problem and are certain that we can be of assistance. Please call us today.
About Sexual Assault within Marriage
Sexual assault in marriage and sexual assault by an intimate partner are considered essentially the same offence. One of the gray areas in Canadian sexual assault laws that have recently been addressed is when a spouse or intimate partner, usually a women, claims that she was sexually assaulted by her husband. It was not that long ago that a man could only be charged with indecent assault, common assault or assault causing bodily harm, crimes carrying much lighter penalties upon conviction than today’s sexual assault charges. In 1983, Bill C-127 made sexual assault against one’s spouse an indictable offence. If physical harm is caused in the sexual assault, a man can also be charged with aggravated sexual assault.
What Constitutes Sexual Assault in Marriage?
Any unwanted sexual contact could be claimed to be sexual assault in marriage. Accusations of sexual assault within marriage or by an intimate partner can take many forms such as touching, groping, fondling, rubbing, kissing, or any unwanted sexual act. All could be considered to be acts of sexual violence and sexual assault could lead a woman to claim that she had been harmed. In addition, sexual assault within marriage or by an intimate partner could be non-physical in nature often in the form of pressuring a partner for more frequent sex or different non-traditional variations of sex.
What Constitutes an Intimate Relationship?
A couple is presumed to already be in an intimate relationship when consensual sexual intercourse is occurring regularly. Even if a woman is unsatisfied with the relationship, she may be willing to consent to have sex with her partner for a time in order to appease him. When the relationship ends and sexual assault is claimed, it can be difficult to identify and prove where consensual sex ended and the sexual assault began.
History of Sexual Assault in Marriage
Many years ago, after a marriage had been consummated, a woman was thought of as more or less the property of the husband and sexual assault could not occur between spouses or within a marital relationship, by definition. Cultural norms taught women that the possibility of sexual assault within marriage did not exist and that they were required to have sex on demand with their husband or potentially “lose him” to another more submissive woman.
Even today, it can be difficult for a woman who may be dependent on her husband to all of a sudden leave a relationship and claim sexual assault due to fears of being unable to support themselves on their own financially. When a spouse, usually but not exclusively a male, exerts power or domination over his partner and forces sex on his spouse it may be considered a form of domestic violence and can rise to an accusation of sexual assault. Defending against the charges of sexual assault in marriage is complex and a person accused of sexually assaulting his spouse needs to understand the specific Canadian laws that he is being accused of violating.
Penalties for Being Convicted of Sexual Assault in Marriage
Penalties for being convicted of sexual assault in marriage fall within the category of general sexual assault crimes. When one is convicted of sexual assault within marriage, a person’s prior criminal history and in particular, one’s prior record of violence against women (or previous partners) is weighed heavily by the court. The Crown prosecutor must decide whether to proceed summarily or by indictable offence and your first line of defence is to convince the crown to proceed to the lesser route.
Canada’s Criminal Code specifies the maximum sentences possible for sexual assault. Under section 271, anyone who commits a sexual assault is guilty of:
- an indictable offence, liable to a maximum prison term of ten years;
- or an offence punishable on summary conviction, liable to a maximum prison term of eighteen months.These are the maximum sentences under the law, however, if you are convicted, our firm will fight for the minimum possible sentence.
False Assumptions about Sexual Assault in Marriage
Sexual assault in marriage can be exaggerated in order to provide grounds for a divorce that a spouse may desire in the first place. A person may level the charge of sexual assault in marriage as part of an overall divorce strategy to not only get a divorce but also to bias a judge in child custody and spousal support settlements.
Sexual assault in marriage is almost exclusively claimed by women against men and very rarely alleged by men. Sexual assault in marriage is usually a gender crime. When one thinks of the media portrayal of sexual assault, one imagines a stranger attacking a lone women in a dark alley. In reality, most sexual assault charges are leveled against a man by a woman with whom the man has a relationship. Most often that relationship is marriage. Sexual assault in marriage is a particularly difficult charge for a woman to bring against her husband as it will most likely signal the end of the relationship. The longer people have been married, the more a woman has invested in the relationship and the more she has to lose, emotionally, physically, and financially. This is probably why such a small percentage of alleged sexual assaults in marriage are even reported to police. That said, a history of a deteriorating relationship can be evidence to support a claim that the relationship was on the rocks to begin with and that the accusation of sexual assault may have been fabricated. Also, regular, routine sex between a husband and wife is thought to be expected and if a woman chooses to live in a loveless or sexless relationship one would question their motives for bringing the allegations.
Don’t be intimidated by charges of sexual assault in marriage.
Call the Kruse Law firm for a free consultation. We will fight to have the charges of sexual assault in marriage dismissed at their onset or at least, reduced to the least serious offence.