Sexual Offences

Sexual offences refer to a number of charges including sexual interference, exploitation and most commonly sexual assault. You will likely need a sexual offence lawyer to help with your situation.

Sexual offences are charges that arise as a result of allegations of sexual violence. Sexual offences that we strategically assist our clients in defending include:

  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual assault with a weapon
  • Sexual assault causing bodily harm
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Sexual interference
  • Invitation to sexual touching
  • Soliciting a minor 

Sexual assault is a specific type of sexual offence. You can be charged with sexual assault if you have touched another person sexually or in sexual circumstances without their consent. Sexual assault covers a wide range of conduct, including non-consensual fondling, touching, or kissing. It also covers more serious acts, such as fellatio, cunnilingus, digital, vaginal, or anal intercourse without consent. The most serious sexual assault offences are those involving bodily harm or an aggravated sexual assault. 

If the person who says you sexually assaulted them is under the age of 16 years old, you will also be charged with sexual interference in addition to sexual assault. 

Allegations of sexual assault can have serious consequences, such as social stigma, job loss, and emotional stress. You do not have to face these charges alone. The lawyers at Roulston Urquhart are very experienced and strategic at defending sexual offences and will be here to help you every step of the way. 

  • Being charged or investigated for sexual assault can be a terrifying experience even if you're innocent.
  • If the police call you and tell you that they want to speak to you the first step is to call us immediately.
  • We will walk you through what to do and what to expect.
  • We will contact the police on your behalf to find out: are you actually being charged and do the police have enough evidence to charge you.
  • Once we have that information we will strategically decide whether you should go meet with police and arrange that meeting for you.
  • If you go meet police, we will prepare a plan so you are protected.
  • Immediately: Save all text, IG, Dating Apps, emails, snapchat, photos from this individual
  • Do not block her.
  • Do not contact her (ie. to try to apologize even if you have done nothing wrong- this will be 
  • used against you)
  • Write down everything you can remember about the interaction
  • Do not speak to anybody about this -anything you say anybody else could also be used against you.
  • Call us immediately so we can formulate a strategy.

For the purposes of sexual offences, consent means the complainant’s voluntary agreement to participate in the act. In Canada, the age of consent to sexual activity is 16. However, a person cannot consent to sexual activity with someone who is in a position of trust or authority over them until they are 18 years old. This includes a person such as a doctor, sports coach, teacher or family member.

In Canada, you cannot legally give consent to sexual activity if you are too young, if you are asleep or unconscious, if force is used to subdue them, or if you are threatened or misled about the sexual activity or the harm that may result.

Rest assured, there are other defences available even if consent is not on the table. Roulston Urquhart will put in the time and resources to ensure you have the best defences available to you.

Depending on the facts of your case, there can be several defences available to you. These include:

  • The complainant actually did consent to the sexual activity,
  • You had an honest but mistaken belief that the complainant was consenting to having sexual activity with you,
  • You had an honest but mistaken belief that the complainant was old enough to consent to the sexual activity, and/or
  • The sexual activity never happened.

Testimony from the complainant is also critical to sexual offence prosecutions. This means it is essential for you to retain a lawyer who is experienced in cross-examination of complainants. An experienced lawyer is also key to you being able to tell your side of the story to the Court. Complainants will often have hidden motives, such as bitterness, embarrassment, jealousy, divorce, child custody matters, or financial reasons to fabricate the allegations. Roulston Urquhart will review your case to determine the true reason why the Complainant is exaggerating or fabricating the allegations. 

Roulston Urquhart has defended some of the highest profile and most difficult sexual assault cases in Alberta. We understand that the allegations of sexual assault could have a substantial impact on your life and your future. If you have been charged with a sexual offence, you need an experienced defence lawyer who will protect your rights, cross examine with vigour and give you the chance to tell your side of the story.

If the complainant was so intoxicated that they were unconscious or unable to control their body, under the law the complainant could not have consented. However, having sex when you are drunk can still be consensual. 

It is important to note that anyone can revoke their consent to have sexual activity at any time during sex - this means that the person you are having sex with must be consenting throughout the sexual activity. However, simply because a person regrets their decision after-the-fact does not mean they were not consenting at the time of the sexual activity. A person who consented throughout the sexual activity cannot take away their consent after the sexual activity has already happened. 

The law looks at intoxication (drunkenness) and consent on a case-by-case basis. As such, you could have a number of defences available to you. If you are charged with any sexual offence, you should contact a lawyer with experience in sexual assault law immediately. Roulston Urquhart will analyze your case and canvass all defences you might have before you take the next step.

You may be charged with a criminal offence of sexual assault – however, the good news is that you still have a viable defence. This defence is called honest but mistaken belief of consent. The defence is available where the complainant denies that she consented or alleges she could not consent because she was too drunk - however, you honestly believed that she was in fact consenting. 

To prove that you had an honest but mistaken belief in consent, you must show that reasonable steps were taken to establish consent and that the complainant communicated consent to engage in the sexual act. What can be claimed as “reasonable steps” depends on the circumstances and is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. However, you cannot claim the defence of honest but mistaken belief in cases where you chose to take drugs or alcohol that affected your thinking, if you had a reckless attitude about whether the other person was consenting, or if you intentionally ignored signs that the other person was not consenting.

If you are charged with a sexual offence, it is crucial that you document everything you can remember about what happened because the judge must determine what you knew at the time of the sexual act in order to determine mistaken belief in consent. The judge will determine whether a reasonable person who knew the same things you knew at the time would have taken further steps to establish consent before continuing with the sexual act. You should speak with your lawyer at Roulston Urquhart to strategize your case to the best of your advantage.

Under the Criminal Code, an accused is prohibited from introducing evidence of a complainant’s prior sexual history at trial unless an application is made to introduce that evidence at trial. For example, if you and the complainant were married, it would likely be crucial to introduce evidence of your prior consensual sexual activity with your wife for the Court to understand why you honestly believed she was consenting. 

Sexual assault law is a complicated area of law, which is why you need a lawyer who is experienced in sexual offences to defend you. Your lawyer at Roulston Urquhart will review the file and speak with you regarding any history of consensual activity between you and the complainant. Moreover, Roulston Urquhart will make all applications to the Court that are beneficial to your defence to ensure your side of the story is heard.

People who have HIV/AIDS can face serious criminal charges if they do not tell their partner(s) that they have HIV/AIDS before having sex with them. You can be charged with aggravated sexual assault if the court thinks there was “a realistic possibility of HIV transmission” at the time of having sex. You can even be charged if the other person does not get HIV from having sex with you.

Keep in mind, this area of the law is constantly evolving. If you have HIV/AIDS and find yourself faced with criminal charges of sexual assault, we recommend you contact Roulston Urquhart immediately so we can get to work on building your case.

The lawyers at Roulston Urquhart understand that there are many potential consequences for someone charged with sexual assault. The stigma of a sex crime could impact your personal and professional life now and in the future. We will ensure that your rights and privacy are protected throughout the legal process and do our best to help you are able to move on with your life.

The lawyers at Roulston Urquhart care about how stigma affects your life before, during and after these charges are concluded. Our knowledge and experience will be fully engaged in your case which could lead to reduced charges or penalties, or even dismissed charges. We thoroughly analyze the evidence and explore all your options when determining the best possible defence for your case.

Sentences for sexual offences often result in incarceration and may also result in a probationary period. Some offences also have minimum jail sentences, such as sexual interference (also known as sexual assault of a minor).

Factors that will be taken into account during sentencing include:

  • The nature and extent of the charges
  • The age of the complainant
  • Whether you were in a position of trust or authority
  • If you have a prior criminal record
  • If there is a minimum sentence

If you are convicted of a sexual offence, you will also be entered into the Sexual Offender’s Information Registry (SOIRA).

The Sexual Offender’s Information Registry is a database created by the Canadian Government that requires those convicted of certain sexual offences to register and disclose personal information to the police. Registry occurs every year for a period ranging from 10 years to life, depending on the nature and number of offences.

The public does not have access to SOIRA. If you have any further questions about the impact of SOIRA, contact Roulston Urquhart.