There are a few common defences against sexual assault charges in Canada that are typically used in most situations. All of these defences are most effective when they are backed up by witness testimony, or other hard facts that can prove that the charges are false or incorrectly levelled at the wrong person.
When the case comes down to the two parties providing statements against one another, it can be hard for a judge to get an accurate picture of the events of the assault.
1. Error of Identity
The identity of the person that committed the sexual assault must be correct. Forensic tools might have to be used in order to establish the identity of the person who committed the crime. This can be one of the areas where it is easiest to disprove false charges against someone. DNA and fingerprints can tell the real story and help to identify the attacker, instead of someone incorrectly charged with sexual assault.
2. The Sexual Act Did Not Take Place
The accused person can claim that there was no sexual activity that took place between the parties. This can be a tough road to travel down, as this can become a case of one person’s words against another. Credibility battles are often hard to resolve, but interviews related to the facts of the event, as well as proof from DNA and other hard facts, can help to support this defence.
3. There Was Consent
This is almost always the central factor that demands attention in a sexual assault case. The entire premise of a sexual assault is that there was no consent provided for the sexual act. If there was consent given prior to the sexual act, then this is not a case of sexual assault. This defence can again lead to a credibility battle between the two parties.
This can also be a complex argument to make due to the circumstances associated with the situation. If the person involved was too intoxicated to consent, or if the complainant does not have the mental capacity to consent, then this is not a valid defence. In cases where the complainant is under the age of 16 or withdrew their consent during the act, this also invalidates the argument that there was consent.
4. There Was an Honest Mistaken Belief That Consent Was Given
Another defence that can be used for this kind of situation is the statement that the accused did not know that there was no consent for the sexual act. This is a hard case to make for most sexual assault cases, but there are instances where the behaviour of the complainant can lead to mistaken consent.