What are the different types of sexual offences?
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Vancouver Criminal Lawyer Troy Anderson. We’re going to talk about Sexual Offences, kind of a timely topic in Canada right now. How’re you doing today Troy?
Troy: I’m well thank you, and you?
Mark: I’m good. So, what are the different types of sexual offences?
Troy: Well, in Canada there’s probably around twenty, probably closer to thirty years ago, what Parliament did is what they said simplify some of the sexual offences in the Criminal Code and take some of the stigma away and so what they did away with was the old offences of rape, indecent assault and all those sort of things and we have what initially began as the catch all offence of sexual assault and we got some other offences that have arisen since then so we have indecent act which has always been in the Criminal Code, we’ve sexual exploitation, invitation to sexual touching, some of those relate to offences against children primarily and so what was supposed to be a simplification has of course evolved into a whole number of very complicated and often interrelated sexual offences within the Criminal Code.
I think the part where for example it gets confusing is the offence of sexual assault itself because sexual assault is a very all-encompassing term and it can and is used to refer to a wide range of offences which can encompass something as simple as an unwanted pat on someone’s rear end all the way up to what we used to call rape which is of course non-consensual sexual intercourse. So being charged with a sexual assault, when someone tells me I’ve been charged with a sexual assault that tells me actually very little about the substance of the offence or the investigation because it carries such a wide range of possible scenarios.
That’s a very, very short list of some of the sexual offences. The commonly charged sexual offences in Canada and that’s not even getting into some of the perhaps, more unique types of offences and I think we’ll talk about that a little bit later, some of the, for example related to the internet or other electronics.
Mark: So, how does the issue of consent come into play since that’s sort of the main news headlines right now?
Troy: Well as in any assault, sexual assault involves the non-consensual application of force and so a sexual act obviously involves some touching which is the legal definition of the application of force and when what is done during the course of a sexual encounter, if it is consensual throughout then you have sex, if it’s begins non-consensual at any point during it, it becomes non-consensual then that is the offence of sexual assault and so some of the stories and hypotheticals that have been in the news lately refers to a scenario wherein there was certain types of behaviour that has been agreed upon at the beginning of a sexual encounter which would be consensual sex but things progressed to the point where consent is withdrawn and at any point where consent is withdrawn where up to that point it had been sex becomes a sexual assault and that’s one of the issues that we deal with now. In keeping in line with that consent refers to, I’m sorry I should say lack of consent actually refers to elements of the offence that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the Crown but in certain types of sexual offences consent is actually not an issue so if you have one, if you have an offence where there is a willing participant but who is under the age of consent, for example with a person who is 25 years of age and so whether that sex is willing or not it still remains a crime because legally that person is unable to give consent to sex.
The similar scenario is much like what’s been in the news recently, if it results in bodily harm so for example, let’s give an extreme example of a broken limb, consent is initiated because the laws says and it’s always been a clear category because you can’t consent to bodily harm so consent is the central issue in sexual offences but there are certain types of offences or certain types of scenarios where consent ceases to be the primary concern.
Mark: So what about electronic or computer based sexual offences, we kind of brought that up already via the internet.
Troy: Right, and what we used to see was often called the distribution for example of obscene material and that has fallen sort of into disuse. What we have now is very specific offences relating to the possession, production and distribution of things like child pornography and that’s generally what we’re discussing when we’re discussing electronic types of offences and so it’s often the file sharing of online pornographic images but it’s not limited to that. There’s also the offence of voyeurism and we’ve got some well publicized cases here in the lower mainland where people have been in bathrooms for example and public places, hoping or accusing evidently at least trying to capture people in a state of undress in what would otherwise be a private place and so that’s the offence of voyeurism.
Mark: So what do I do if I think I’m under investigation for a sexual offence?
Troy: Well, what I typically say is, I can’t think of a worse thing to be accused of. The stigma that is attached to a sexual offence, even if it’s never charged and we’ve seen that in the news lately, the stigma that gets attached to a person’s name at the mere mention of a sexual offence is devastating. I’ve have actually seen it ruin people’s lives even when they’re ultimately completely exonerated and so that is one of the ways where I would suggest getting in touch with a lawyer immediately especially if you are accused of something related to a family member or specifically a child. And so it’s something where you need to get in touch with a lawyer quickly. It is the sort of case that sometimes involves the use of search warrants, those will often be very aggressive in trying to get a statement from an accused so it’s very important to know your rights immediately and so that’s why I say it’s crucial to get legal advice as soon as you possibly can so you know how to deal with the situation as it unfolds because it sometimes unfolds very, very quickly.
Mark: So we’ve been talking about sexual offences in Canada, in BC specifically with Troy Anderson; he’s a Criminal Lawyer here in Vancouver. You can reach him at 604-638-9188 or you can check out his website troyandersonlaw.com.; full of great information. Thanks a lot Troy
Troy: Thank you.