Sexual Assault – Criminal Lawyer Explains Potential Penalties and Consequences

Sexual assault is a deeply traumatic experience that can have severe and lasting consequences for survivors. In Canada, it is a criminal offence that is taken very seriously, and the penalties for conviction can be severe.

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is defined as any non-consensual sexual activity that occurs without the victim’s consent. This can include a range of behaviours, such as unwanted touching, kissing, or sexual intercourse. It’s a crime which can be committed by anyone, regardless of gender, age, or relationship to the victim. It can occur in a variety of settings, including at home, in the workplace, and in public spaces.

Consent is a crucial element of any sexual encounter. It is the responsibility of each person involved to ensure that their partner is consenting to the activity, and that they are comfortable with it.

Potential Penalties for Sexual Assault in Canada

The Criminal Code defines several categories of offences, each with its own set of elements, potential penalties, and legal consequences.

Sexual assault

The most basic form of sexual assault is defined as any non-consensual sexual activity that involves physical contact. This can include unwanted touching, kissing, or sexual intercourse. The maximum penalty for sexual assault is 10 years in prison.

Sexual assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm

This offence involves using a weapon, threatening to use a weapon, or causing bodily harm during a sexual assault. The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years in prison.

Aggravated sexual assault

Aggravated sexual assault is the most serious of the categories, carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. It involves causing serious injury to the victim during the assault. This can include acts that endanger the victim’s life, cause permanent disfigurement, or result in the loss of a bodily function.

Sexual interference

Sexual interference involves sexual contact with a child under the age of 16. The maximum penalty for sexual interference is 10 years in prison.

Invitation to sexual touching

Invitation to sexual touching involves inviting a child under the age of 16 to engage in sexual activity. The maximum penalty for invitation to sexual touching is 10 years in prison.

Sexual exploitation

Sexual exploitation entails using a position of trust or authority to engage in sexual activity with a person under the age of 18. This can include teachers, coaches, or other authority figures who engage in sexual activity with children or youth under their supervision. The maximum penalty for sexual exploitation is 10 years in prison.


Voyeurism involves secretly observing or recording another person in a state of undress or engaged in sexual activity without their consent. The maximum penalty for voyeurism is five years in prison.

It is important to note that these categories are not exhaustive. In addition, the maximum penalties listed above are not mandatory, and the actual penalty will depend on the specific circumstances of the offence and any aggravating or mitigating factors that may be present.

Consequences of Sexual Assault

In addition to the criminal penalties, there are a number of other consequences that can result from a conviction. These consequences can be both legal and personal.

  • Criminal record: A conviction will result in a criminal record, which can limit an individual’s employment opportunities and travel options.
  • Registration as a sex offender: Depending on the nature of the offence, the individual may be required to register as a sex offender, which can have a significant impact on their ability to find housing, employment, and social support.
  • Court-ordered supervision: The individual may be subject to court-ordered supervision, which can include conditions such as staying away from the victim or attending counseling.
  • Personal consequences: The perpetrator may face personal consequences such as social isolation, loss of relationships, and mental health issues.

It is important for individuals to understand what sexual assault is, and to take steps to prevent it from occurring. This includes learning about affirmative consent, intervening when you witness sexual misconduct, and supporting survivors in their recovery.

Get serious about defending your Sexual Assault Charge

If you are committed to vigorously defending your charges, it is important to select a lawyer with a proven track record of success in securing favourable outcomes for their clients, such as having charges withdrawn, winning at trial, or negotiating reduced penalties.

To receive an expert evaluation of your case and recommendations on the best course of action, take advantage of a free consultation with a qualified legal professional.

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