The first thing you need to know is that these cases are serious and complex, and there are many variables at play. The minimum sentence for sexual assault in Canada varies according to the nature and extent of the offence. If you’ve been charged with a sexual crime, you need to contact a criminal defence lawyer so they can fight for the best possible outcome.
Factors Affecting the Severity of a Sexual Assault Sentence
If you are convicted of sexual assault, both mitigating and aggravating factors will affect the sentence. Mitigating factors can result in a reduced charge or a less severe penalty. They include the accused person’s age, whether they enter an early guilty plea, and whether they’ve been convicted of crimes in the past. Aggravating factors can result in the imposition of a sentence that’s well above the minimum sentence for sexual assault in Canada. They are more numerous than the mitigating factors, and they include:
- The age of the victim and the offender’s knowledge of their age
- The degree of force or violence used
- Whether the offender was in a position of authority
- Whether a weapon was used
- The extent of the victim’s vulnerability
- Whether there was penetration
- The likelihood that the individual will re-offend
All About Minimum Sentences in Canada
A mandatory minimum sentence is the lowest penalty a judge must order after an individual has been convicted. Judges have the discretion to issue sentences that are above the minimum, but they can’t go below. There is a mandatory minimum sentence for sexual assault only if the victim is younger than 16 years of age. In more serious cases where the Crown Attorney prosecutes the case by indictment, the minimum punishment must be one year in jail, while the maximum sentence is 14 years in jail.
If the complainant is 16-years-old or over, there’s no mandatory minimum sentence for sexual assault in Canada. However, if the case is indictable, the maximum sentence is ten years. Summary convictions can result in a maximum of 18 months in jail. The minimum sentence is a discharge when a person is found guilty of an offence but is acquitted.
Discharges can be either conditional or absolute. With an absolute discharge, you’ll be free to go. You won’t have a criminal record, and the record of your discharge will be expunged after a year. However, if a judge gives you a conditional discharge, you’ll have to undergo a probationary period. In sexual assault cases, the judge usually orders the individual not to contact the victim in any way. After the probation period has been completed, the conditional discharge becomes absolute.
When Sentencing is More Severe
What we’ve discussed so far generally applies to cases of simple sexual assault. However, if you or a loved one has been convicted of sexual assault causing bodily harm, the most severe penalty is 14 years imprisonment unless a firearm is involved.
If the offender uses a restricted or prohibited gun in the course of the assault, the mandatory minimum sentence for sexual assault in Canada is five years. If another type of firearm is used, the starting point is four years. However, if the victim is under 16-years-old the minimum penalty is five years in jail.
Meanwhile, if the complainant sustains particularly severe injuries, the offender may face a charge of aggravated sexual assault. The minimum sentencing guidelines are the same as for sexual assault causing bodily harm. However, the maximum penalty is life in jail.
Get Sound Legal Advice from Vilkhov Law!
As you can see, you can face severe penalties if you’re convicted of sexual assault. You could spend several years in jail, depending on how serious the court deems your actions to be. If you want to avoid conviction or get the lowest possible sentence, you need strong legal representation. Sexual assault cases can be both emotionally taxing and complicated, so you need an experienced lawyer throughout the process. Contact the team at Vilkhov Law today for expert advice and sound representation. Your first consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose by contacting us.