Ottawa Sexual Assault Lawyer
A charge of sexual assault can cause an isolating rush to judgment from even family, close friends, fellow employees, and your employer. The term “sexual assault” is itself volatile and encompasses a broad spectrum of activity from non-consensual touching, groping, escalating to a charge of rape or attempted rape. To further complicate the charge of sexual assault, many cases involve just two witnesses—the alleged attacker and the victim. Other cases involve DNA and sophisticated expert analysis.
No matter what the circumstances are no one should speak with police or prosecutors, or even friends and family, without the assistance of competent, experienced Ottawa sexual assault defence lawyers. There is a temptation to “tell your side of the story”, but anything you say might be used against you later. In order to preserve your rights and defences, call Auger Hollingsworth, Ottawa’s sexual assault lawyers to schedule a free consultation now.
What is Sexual Assault?
Essentially sexual assault is non-consensual, touching for a “sexual purpose” although its severity depends on the nature of the touching and the relationship, if any, between the defendant and the victim. Defences originate from the often ambiguous concept of consent, especially if the two people know each other. Defences also derive from an inquiry as to whether the touching was indeed of a sexual nature.
Criminal defence lawyers experienced in defending against charges of sexual assault know that the degree of severity also depends on the part of the body that was touched, the factual circumstances of the alleged assault, the motive of the accused, and the behaviours of each party, including whether either or both were intoxicated from alcohol or drugs. Disparities in mental capacity as well as physical strength can be relevant.
Allegations of sexual assault are necessarily emotional, surrounding both the alleged defendant and the victim in a cloud of questions as to their credibility and integrity. Experienced criminal defence lawyers, with prior experience dealing with allegations of sexual assault, can help clients navigate this difficult chapter of their lives.
Sexual assault charges can upend your life, with even your closest family and friends doubting your character and your version of the events. It’s important to your future to have experienced criminal defence lawyers who know how to navigate the criminal justice system, as well as how to manage adverse media that often surrounds these types of prosecutions. The lawyer-client privilege is paramount at Auger Hollingsworth, so you can be assured that confidentiality is core to our representation.
Penalties for Sexual Assault
A conviction for sexual assault can be devastating. A conviction can result in prison time, a criminal record, social stigma, and registration in the National Sex Offender Registry. In addition, travel outside Canada to the United States and other countries might become impossible. A conviction might result in:
- Up to 10 years in prison
- Up to 3 years of probation
- Inclusion in the National Sex Offender Registry
- Surrender of a DNA sample to the National DNA data bank
- Inability to own or possess firearms, and other weapons
- Restrictions on use of public parks, pools, schoolyards, and playgrounds, if the sexual assault involved children
The Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA) was enacted to protect the general public from convicted sex offenders and to help police investigate future sexual offences by identifying possible suspects through the National Sex Offender Registry.
These imposed penalties are compounded by the loss of family and friend support, loss of livelihood, and the social stigma that goes along with this kind of criminal history.
Defences for Sexual Assault
The first rule to remember is that you should not speak with anyone before you have contacted a competent and experienced Ottawa criminal defence lawyer, knowledgeable about sexual assault laws and prosecutions. The first impulse is to defend yourself from accusations, especially if the accusations are patently false. However, anything you say to anyone—police, friends, even family—can be used against you later. Also remember that all spoken words are subject to interpretation and can be misconstrued.
Sexual assault cases are difficult because of the emotions that surround such charges. These emotions are heightened when the defendant and the victim know each other and there are allegations of betrayal of trust. Experienced criminal defence lawyers know how to investigate the circumstances and evidence to begin constructing a legal defence.
At Auger Hollingsworth, our Ottawa sexual assault defence lawyers represent our clients to the fullest extent of the law. As part of our defence, we will identify any weaknesses in the case brought against you. We will expose when there is a motive by the complainant to lie, establish that there was indeed consent, or uncover mistake in identity through DNA samples or alibi, when appropriate.
There are unique evidentiary issues present in sexual assault cases. There are limits on the types of questions defence counsel can ask of the complainant, especially about her or his prior sexual activity, with others or even with the defendant. At Auger Hollingsworth, we know how to apply for permission from the Court to explore the prior sexual activity of the complainant and to obtain access to medical records and other third-party documents that might shed light on the motive and credibility of the accuser. We know the law of sexual assault and how to defend against these charges.
We will seek a case dismissal of charges, when feasible, so that the case never goes to trial. And we will defend your name as rigorously as possible if the case does end up before a judge and jury.
We have also been successful in meeting with the Crown to make a presentation about the weakness of the case, resulting in sexual assault charges being dropped outright without a trial.
Contact our Ottawa Sexual Assault Lawyers Today
Choosing an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer can help preserve your rights and defences to criminal charges. At Auger Hollingsworth, we offer a free consultation session during which you can assess our lawyers and we can assess the strength of the prosecution’s claims. During this free consultation, we will:
- Review the criminal charges or the request for appearance or subpoena for documents, and any police reports and other documents.
- We will listen to your story and map out the areas for investigation, begin to compile a list of witnesses, and compose the various strategies the facts and law offer.
- We will provide you with an estimate of the cost of legal services.
- If we are unable to provide you with a defence, we will refer you to other counsel.
Call (613) 699-8192 today to schedule a free consultation with the knowledgeable Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.