The Criminal Code broadly defines assault as the intentional infliction of bodily harm without consent. This definition also applies to sexual assault, with the additional elements of “sexual touching”, and that the assault has been of a “sexual nature”. As with all assaults, these elements are intended to cover a wide variety of conduct. Any number of actions could constitute a sexual assault, so long as the conduct was intentional, non-consensual, and of a sexual nature. 

What You Need to Know

  • The potential penalties associated with sexual assault are substantially more severe than with Simple Assault. 
  • The maximum penalty is ten years imprisonment, although the maximum is raised where the victim is under sixteen years old. 
  • There are additional penalties associated with a conviction for sexual assault, including registration on a sex offender registry (see below).

Defence of Consent

Consent is available as a defence to any type of assault where the Accused honestly believes that the alleged victim was a willing participant in the impugned action. However there are some limitations to that defence. The Courts have ruled that consent is no defence where the assault results in “non-trivial bodily harm”. In order to establish the defence however, it is necessary for the Accused to prove that he/she took all reasonable steps in the circumstances to ensure that the complainant was consenting.

SOIRA Orders

If a person is convicted of a “designated offence” under s.490.011 of the Criminal Code, the Court is required to impose an order requiring that person to comply with the Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA). The Act requires sexual offenders to comply with certain rules and obligations, such as reporting to registration centres, and providing personal information. The order is imposed for either ten years, twenty years, or for life depending upon the circumstances of the conviction.