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What is ‘Acquaintance Sexual Assault?’

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When sexual assault is depicted in media like television shows and movies, we often see it portrayed as the act of a stranger, like perhaps a serial rapist or another predator. But actually, acquaintance sexual assault is by far the most common form of sexual assault in Canada. Acquaintance sexual assault makes up for more than 80% of sexual assault claims the police charged.

What is acquaintance sexual assault? Simply put, it is sexual assault between two people who know each other in some form or another.

The two parties don’t need to know each other well – they could have just met, they could recognize each other in passing from work or a shared favorite restaurant, or they could ride the same bus each workday. Or, the two parties could know each other very well, though they do not have any familial status. For example, they could be a close friend or even a romantic partner, and if involved in sexual assault, it would be considered acquaintance sexual assault.

How Does Canada’s Criminal Law Define the Lack of Consent in Terms of Sexual Assault Cases?

Canada has broad definitions in place for what it considers to be sexual assault. Essentially, if no consent was given, then any sexual activity may be deemed to be assault. This includes rape but extends to unwanted kissing or groping, too.

Consent cannot be given in certain circumstances, such as an activity involving someone unconscious or someone under the legal age of consent.

Additionally, there is no consent if:

  •  Coercion is used to pressure someone into sexual acts they’re not okay with.
  •  Consent is given by someone else on their behalf.
  •  Someone says ‘no.’
  •  There is an abuse of power or authority used to coerce someone.

Is it Possible to Argue Consent?

It is very difficult for someone accused of sexual assault to argue that they were given consent. Mostly, it is challenging because there is rarely any evidence to support the claim. But also, it is often frowned upon or even disallowed by some courtrooms even to suggest such an argument as a means of criminal defence. The accused risks losing the jury’s sympathy by suggesting consent was given, even if it is the truth.

Today, arguing consent is considered controversial. Not only does it open the accused up to cross-examination, but many judges do not like this type of legal strategy.

Contact the Law Firm of William Jaksa Criminal Litigation to Schedule a Case Review

Sexual assault cases between friends, colleagues, and acquaintances can be especially messy and emotionally difficult. For the assault survivor they are dealing with a breach of trust on top of the assault. The accused, especially those wrongfully accused, are left in a panic about how their actions were misunderstood or why the other party is now claiming a lack of consent.

These are complex, emotional legal matters. Do not proceed without the legal representation of a professional. Not only do you risk saying something that could incriminate yourself, but you risk losing your temper and letting emotions get the better of you in a high-tension courtroom setting.

Criminal defence lawyer William Jaksa has nearly two decades of legal experience assisting clients with criminal law troubles. Highly skilled, respected by colleagues and clients alike, and in good standing with the bar, the Toronto-based lawyer has the experience and know-how to help you build a solid legal defence. With William Jaksa as your criminal lawyer, you can possibly reduce your sentencing or have the charges dismissed entirely.

No guarantees can be made with any criminal law cases. If you’ve spoken to a lawyer telling you that you’ll win for sure, then you need to consider hiring a different lawyer. While Jaksa and his legal team have the experience to represent your case confidently, we pride ourselves on providing honest assessments to our clients. You don’t need a lawyer to put a shine on things; you need a lawyer who can defend your case from beginning to end.

To schedule a consultation, please call our law office at 647-951-8078.

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