Sexual assault in Ontario: Understanding the age of consent
On behalf of Neuberger & Partners LLP posted in Sexual Assault on Wednesday November 01, 2017.
The age of consent for having sex is an often debated issue. It is an important question to have answered, however, since it can be the difference between something completely permissible or sexual assault, if one of the individuals in question is still at a young age. For instance, what happens when a 15-year-old female and a 21-year-old male have sex?
In a particular case that involved the Ontario Court of Appeals, it was determined that the female initiated the sexual encounter, even though the age of consent in Ontario is 16. During the initial trial, the male was actually found guilty of sexually assaulting his 15-year-old girlfriend, but the judge would not convict the man since the female wasn’t coerced by the male, nor was there reason to believe there was any criminal intent. The judge found that a violation of the man’s rights had occurred, but the Crown appealed the ruling. During the appeal, another judge ruled that the ban-on-consent law did not violate the rights of the man.
The male appealed that ruling with an indication that the age-gap law did, in fact, violate his rights. The Ontario Court of Appeals agreed with the Crown, however, stating that strict age limitations are in effect to protect children. The man was then formally sentenced.
In certain circumstances, the Criminal Code of Canada prohibits using consent as the defence in a sexual assault case when sex with a minor is involved. In cases where the age of the minor in question is between 12-14 years old and the individual facing charges is two or more years older than the minor, in situations where the minor is between 14-15 years old and the accused individual is five or more years older, and in instances where the minor is over 16 years old but under the age of 18 and is in a trusting relationship with the person with whom he or she is having sexual relations, consent is not a legally allowed defence. These rules exist, government says, to safeguard children, and some people believe that all individuals below the age of majority should not be legally allowed to have sex.
The laws regarding consent and sexual relations can be murky to many people, and being convicted for these types of charges can have life-changing consequences. Those in Ontario who have questions, and especially those who are facing such charges, would do well to seek support from an experienced criminal defence lawyer. Acquiring legal support can ensure one has the best possible criminal defence strategy for his or her unique situation and can significantly increase the odds of achieving the best possible outcome, which sometimes can even be the dismissal of charges altogether.
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