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Ottawa Criminal Law Blog

What is Sexual Exploitation?

Although the age of consent in Canada is 16, in some cases you can still be convicted of an offence for engaging in sexual activity with someone over the age of 16 but under the age of 18. If you are in a position of trust or authority towards a young person, or the young person is in a relationship of dependency with you, or exploitative of the young person, you could be convicted of the offence of sexual exploitation.

What is Criminal Harassment?

In Canada, there is no offence called "stalking." Instead, it is known as criminal harassment. Charges most frequently arise in cases where there has been a bad break up and one spouse continues to attempt to communicate with the other. Section Subsections 264 (1) and (2) of the Criminal Code state:

The Defence of Consent in Sexual Assault Cases

One of the most common defences to an allegation of sexual assault is that the complainant consented to the sexual activity. It must be remembered that you are presumed innocent and the prosecutor must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that in order for there to be a conviction for sexual assault, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that there was no consent.

The "I didn't do it" Defence to Sexual Assault

It can be devastating to be accused of sexual assault when you didn't do it, whether the allegation comes from an acquittance, a stranger or a family member. Although you are presumed innocent and the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, it is often best to approach the case from the perspective of proving your innocence. That means working with your lawyer to both discredit the allegations and demonstrate through witnesses and other evidence why you could not have committed the offence. A number of areas that may prove fruitful at trial include:

DEFENDING AGAINST A SEXUAL ASSAULT CHARGE

Being accused of sexual assault can seem like a nightmare. High profile individuals seem to be tried and convicted in the court of public opinion on an almost daily basis. However, if you are arrested and charged you will still have the benefits of all of the protections that our criminal justice system affords. You are presumed innocent in the eyes of the Court. The prosecutor must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That can only be done after a full trial in which all witnesses called by the prosecutor are cross-examined and the defence has an opportunity to call any witnesses that it wants.

Accused of a crime as a young offender? Know your rights

If your child faces charges as a young offender, you may be unfamiliar with the legal procedures and rules that govern criminal trials for juveniles. The Youth Criminal Justice Act applies to those between ages 12 and 18 accused of violating federal law. However, even though Ontario laws may favour rehabilitation rather than jail time for young offenders, the impact on your child's future can still be severe. Consequences could include your child being expelled from school or losing his or her ability to secure employment.

You will likely have questions about your child's legal rights regarding how to handle police questions and whether to secure the services of a lawyer. The manner in which you and your child react to accusations may play a critical role in the outcome.

The Right to a Trial in the Official Language of You Choice

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, the Criminal Code of Canada allows you to proceed to trial in the official language of your choice (s. 530(1)). This right guarantees an accused person the right to have a trial in the French language or the English language and the proceedings would include a prosecutor and a judge (and jury if applicable) who can speak the official language of choice. The Criminal Code also allows for bilingual trials. For example, it is possible to have some witnesses testify in English while others testify in French.

Expert Evidence

Last week, the Ontario of Appeal heard the appeal of the Christy Natsis case. You may recall the Natsis trial a few years ago: a Pembroke dentist who was charged with impaired driving and driving with over 80 milligrams of alcohol in her system. Ultimately, after 55 days of trial, the trial judge excluded the breath readings because of violations of Ms. Natsis's rights, but convicted her of impaired driving causing death, largely on the expert testimony of the Ontario Provincial Police reconstructionists. The main issue on appeal is whether the trial judge properly allowed the police officers to testify as an expert and provide opinion evidence on the nature of the accident.

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Ottawa Criminal Law Blog | Bayne Sellar Ertel Carter