According to the Canadian Criminal Code:
“Any unwanted sexual act done by one person to another or any sexual activity done without a person’s consent or their voluntary agreement.”
By definition, the circumstances considered sexual assault can be far-reaching. More importantly, since nobody signs consent forms before touching another person or performing acts of intimacy, consent and actions can be easily denied. It’s quite common to see people falsely accused in this web of sexual assault.
Everything aside, sexual assault in Canada is a very severe allegation. And the trials can get very complicated and stressful and may include numerous factors. It’s better to avoid any interactions that might lead to such claims and charges.
However, reading this means something happened, and you have questions regarding the matter. Let’s look into sexual assault and the sentences in detail.
Criminal Code of Sexual Assault Sentences in Canada
The Criminal Code of Canada outlines the provisions related to sexual assault in the country. Sexual assault is defined as any form of sexual contact that is committed without the consent of the victim. This can include a range of behaviors such as sexual touching, sexual violence, and more.
The Criminal Code recognizes three degrees of sexual assault, each with different punishments. The most serious form of sexual assault is referred to as sexual assault causing bodily harm and is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. The next degree is sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party, or causing bodily harm, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The least serious form of sexual assault is referred to as simple sexual assault and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
In addition to the provisions related to sexual assault, the Criminal Code also includes provisions related to other sexual offenses such as sexual exploitation, sexual interference, and invitation to sexual touching. These provisions are intended to provide a comprehensive legal framework for addressing sexual assault and related offenses in Canada.
The provisions related to sexual assault in the Criminal Code are important as they reflect the seriousness of this crime and the need to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. They also serve to provide justice for survivors of sexual assault and ensure the protection of all Canadians from sexual violence. The provisions in the Criminal Code are regularly reviewed and updated to ensure they are effective in addressing the changing nature of sexual assault and related offenses in Canada.
What Factors Determine the Severity of Sexual Assault Sentences?
Some factors can aggravate the sentence for a sexual assault case, while others might reduce the penalties and even mitigate the circumstances.
The accused’s age, whether it’s the first offence for them, any plea by the accused (early guilty plea, if made by the accused), etc., can drive the case in favour of the accused.
On the other hand, if the aggravating factors outweigh and outnumber the mitigating factors, it results in more severe penalties/sentences. Hence, it’s better to lay out the facts on the table in the preliminary stages and determine the defence route as early as possible.
Following are the mitigating and aggravating factors for such cases:
- The accused might get a reduced sentence if they are a first-time offender and have no prior allegations or charges.
- If the accused is a minor (underage). The case might take an entirely different turn as they are a juvenile and can’t be given such harsh sentences. A minor accused might get the charges dropped depending on the total circumstances of the case.
- If the accused pleads guilty early on in the case, the judge might consider reducing the sentence. Such pleas exhibit remorseful behaviour and save valuable court time. However, it’s essential to have an extensive legal consultation and run the whole circumstances before making such pleas.
- The victim’s age is an important consideration. If the victim is a minor, the accused is almost like getting a very severe sentence.
- The accused’s knowledge of the victim’s age is also an important consideration and directly affects sentencing. If the accused is aware that the victim is a minor, the sentence is further aggravated. On the other hand, it wouldn’t aggravate if the accused is unaware of the victim’s age. This is dependent on how well the defence lawyer presents the facts and evidence in court and convinces the judge.
- The vulnerability of the victim comes next. The law is set the same for all. However, it protects the vulnerable and weak who can be exploited easily and abused. If the victim is placed under undue influence and vulnerable, it entails a significantly more severe sentence than if the victim is a capable adult.
- The extent of the assault and violence is also considered. The degree of force the accused used against the victim in the sexual assault determines the extent of the sentence.
- If the accused is in a position of authority, judges will consider that as abuse of power. If the accused is currently entitled to a place of authority or power and chooses to assault a victim sexually, it supposedly aggravates the sentencing.
- The involvement of a weapon is considered an assault with increased force, which increases the likelihood of an aggravated sentence.
- If there was penetration involved, the case crosses a certain threshold and is taken to another level of severity. It severely affects the case and aggravates the sentencing.
- For first offences, the sentence may not be aggravated. However, if the accused is a repeat offender with a previous record, they might get an aggravated sentence (especially for repeating sexual assault).
What is the Minimum Sentence for Sexual Assault in Canada?
All judges have the authority to exercise discretion. However, they can do so only within limits permitted by law. This means they can sentence only within the acceptable range and cannot lower the minimum limit.
The case would be considered severe for victims under 16 years old, and the Crown Attorney prosecute as an indictment. The sentence could extend up to 14 years of imprisonment.
The minimum sentence for sexual assault in Canada would be 1 year of imprisonment for an accused found guilty of an offence relating to sexual assault and convicted. And the maximum is 14 years.
However, the circumstances, nature of the offence, and associated factors would determine the exact sentence within that range.
If the case is indictable and the victim is more than 16 years, the maximum sentence for such an offence is 10 years of imprisonment. In contrast, a conviction can lead to a maximum of 18 months imprisonment if it’s considered a summary conviction. Let’s follow the bellow chart to have a clear picture of maximum and minimum sentence for sexual assault in Canada based on crime specifications:
|Assault Specifications||Minimum Sentence for Sexual Assault||Maximum Sentence for Sexual Assault|
|victim younger than 16, indictment||1 year||14 years|
|victim younger than 16, summary conviction||6 Months||2 years|
|victim older than 16, indictment||None||2 years|
|victim older than 16, summary conviction||None||18 months|
|Sexual assault causing bodily harm, no firearm||None||14 years|
|Sexual assault causing bodily harm, restricted or prohibited firearm||5 years||14 years|
|Sexual assault causing bodily harm, restricted or prohibited firearm, repeat offence||7 years||14 years|
|Sexual assault causing bodily harm, possession of other firearm||4 years||14 years|
|Sexual assault causing bodily harm, victim younger than 16 years old||5 years||14 years|
|Aggravated sexual assault, restricted or prohibited firearm||5 years||Life in jail|
|Aggravated sexual assault, possession of other firearm||4 years||Life in jail|
It’s important to remember – that an accused individual might be found guilty of the charges and still be acquitted or discharged.
Discharge Nature: How to Get Discharged of a Case?
Discharges of Sexual Assault Sentence in Canada can be absolute or conditional, depending on the case. So let’s see it in detail.
1. Absolute Discharge
The accused individual, if discharged absolutely, will be released with a clean record. They will not have any probationary period or criminal records. If it’s pronounced, the accused will go free without any other limitations.
2. Conditional Discharge
Conditional discharges are operated as partial sentences. The convict has to go through a probationary period and will also bear a criminal record. Additionally, the judge might also order the convict to refrain from being in proximity of the victim or contacting them.
The accused will be completely free (but with a criminal record) only after serving the probationary period.
A sexual assault charge can lead to severe consequences depending on the circumstances. However, if you or a loved one is entangled in such a complication relating to sexual assault, it’s best to get proper legal representation from spousal support lawyers and calmly handle the situation to mitigate all adversities.
If you take proactive measures early, you can sort through any aggravating, complicating, or detrimental circumstances relating to the case. Your lawyer will be able to work out the best outcome with minimal sentences.
FAQs: Minimum Sentence for Sexual Assault Canada
What is considered sexual assault in Canada?
Sexual assault in Canada is defined as any form of sexual contact that is committed without the consent of the victim. This can include a range of behaviors such as sexual touching, sexual violence, and more.
What is the punishment for sexual assault in Canada?
The punishment for sexual assault in Canada depends on the degree of the crime. The most serious form of sexual assault is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, the next degree is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and the least serious form is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Are there different degrees of sexual assault in Canada?
Yes, the Criminal Code of Canada recognizes three degrees of sexual assault, each with different punishments.
What other sexual offenses are recognized in the Criminal Code of Canada?
In addition to the provisions related to sexual assault, the Criminal Code also includes provisions related to other sexual offenses such as sexual exploitation, sexual interference, and invitation to sexual touching.
How does the justice system handle sexual assault cases in Canada?
Sexual assault cases in Canada are handled through the criminal justice system. Victims can report the crime to the police and the case will go through the legal process, which includes investigation, charging the accused, and trial. The victim may also receive support from organizations and resources specifically designed to assist survivors of sexual assault.
Can a survivor of sexual assault seek justice through the court system in Canada?
Yes, a survivor of sexual assault in Canada can seek justice through the criminal justice system by reporting the crime to the police and pursuing a case against the accused. The legal process provides a framework for seeking justice for survivors and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions.