Sexual Assault Criminal Code: Learn How It Can Help You

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Sexual assault is being more frequent in Canada and Govt. legal authorities are being conscious of it. Previously, victims are not aware of the sexual assault criminal code properly and sometimes they don’t tell anyone about it because they are scared of being humiliated socially.  However, the situation is not the same as earlier. People are more spontaneous and they file complaints about any assault.

As it is a criminal offence, law agencies like have the right lawyers for helping those victims. Not only that, if anyone is accused of sexual assault falsely, we can help them as well. Our lawyers have worked in many cases and have the experience that they can help you. Let us know your case and help get the justice you deserve.

This article will walk you through details of sexual assault, its punishments, and associated things related to this crime.

Definition of Sexual Assault Criminal Code of Canada

Department of Justice in Canada updated the definition of sexual assault in 2010. It is widely considered the official definition of sexual assault. According to that criminal code, it is stated that “any unwanted sexual act done by one person to another or sexual activity without one person’s consent or voluntary agreement.” There are more sections in this criminal code and we have shared their definition in the following sections. For now, just know that the degree of assault defines the criminal definition of that sexual assault.

Section 271 of the Criminal Code says that,

Sexual assault happens when a person is touched in a way that interferes with their sexual integrity. It may include touching, kissing, sexual intercourse, or any other sexual activity that occurs without his/her consent. However, sections 265 and 272 of the Criminal Code also mention that. Each section has different interpretations of this offense.

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Section of the Criminal Code Deals with Sexual Assault

Section 265 of the Criminal Code states that,

  • Someone who commits sexual assault,
  • Applies force intentionally to the victim directly or indirectly; without the consent of another person.
  • The person uses a gesture or tries to force or threaten the victim. The accused forces another person to believe on reasonable grounds that s/he has the power to accomplish his purpose.
  • The person accuses or obstructs the victim when publicly carrying a weapon or imitating it.
  • Section 265 applies to all forms of assault, including criminal code sexual assault, sexual assault using a weapon, aggravated sexual assault, and threats to a third party.

Sexual assault Criminal Code of Canada section 271 appears to include the offense of sexual assault as a sexual assault itself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include the broad drafting of sexual assault.

Read now if you want to know what to do if you are falsely accused of an assault case.

More specific explanations of sexual offenses exist within the Criminal Code of 272.

Section 272 of the Criminal Code states,

This section mentions sexual assaults that occur with a weapon, causing bodily harm or threats to a third party. The accused threatens to harm the victim if that person doesn’t consent to a sexual act. Or maybe, the accused caused harm to the victim.

Canadian Criminal Code Aggravated Sexual Assault

It occurs when the victim is maimed, injured, disfigured, or threatened to lose her life while being assaulted. Section 273 of the Criminal Code explains Aggravated sexual assault.

Check: Aggravated Assault in Canada

Child Abuse

Child abuse denotes physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of someone under the age of 16. It can also include situations where a child is exposed to domestic violence or negligence.

If there is child abuse around, it is required by law to report that to the nearest child protection agencies.

However, there are more sexual offenses codified in the Criminal Code of Canada sexual assault. That includes sexual abuse, calls for sexual touching, voyeurism, child pornography, etc. A person accused of sexual assault may be convicted of more sexual offenses depending on the circumstances.

Whether the assault is considered sexual in nature is objective. Considering the totality of the situation, a reasonable observer will see if it can be considered sexual.


In many sexual assault cases, consent plays a critical role. It’s a truth and a matter of concern. The law will determine the trier of fact in court. A few rules determine what is considered consent and what’s not.

Section 266 of the Criminal Code regarding sexual assault specifies some instances that do not establish consent.

  • No consent is found for the purpose of this section where the complainant does not submit or resist due to
  • Using force on the plaintiff or someone other than the plaintiff;
  • Threat or fear of force by the accused to the complainant or someone other than the complainant;
  • The exercise of authority or
  • Fraud

In case of drug and alcohol involvement, deciding consent becomes more complicated. It raises the question of the victim’s consent. Yet, the court will justify the evidence and decide.

Another issue arises when the accused reasonably believes that the victim consent to sexual activity. Section 266 (4) is cited as “reasonable grounds for the accused’s belief.”

Basically, the question of consent is determined by observing the whole circumstances. There is no rule of thumb to decide the issue of consent automatically. It is ultimately decided based on the testimony of the accused and victim and, of course, believable witnesses.

Evidence in Sexual Assault Trials

Physical Evidence

Physical evidence is sometimes enough to prove the accusation. The court can use bodily fluids and other DNA-producing evidence to prove that the sexual act took place.

Its purpose will depend on the subject of the trial. When it is proved that sexual assault occurred, the only argument is whether there was consent. It is less important to verify that sexual assault occurred in such a case.


The witness’s testimony plays a massive role in most sexual assault or child abuse cases. The witness can be anyone, including the victim, accused, or other credible witnesses.

Like the victim, the accused has no right to take a stand or testify. In case of physical or medical evidence, the court may also call a professional witness to testify.

Photo or Video Evidence

There may be cases when the victim or accused has taken a video or a photograph. This evidence is used very rarely.

What is the Punishment of Sexual Assault in Canada?

The punishment of sexual assault varies depending on the situation. However, a common sexual assault charge carries a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

Apart from that, the victim’s age here plays an important role. If the victim is under the age of 16, the accused will get a minimum of 1-year imprisonment. Here, if the person who commits the offense is accused of section 272, the punishment can be severe.

In that case, the punishment will likely be maximum of 14 years. The use of firearms in crime is punishable by a minimum of four years imprisonment. On the other hand, the crime committed in conjunction with organized crime will get a punishment of up to a minimum of 7 years.

FAQ: Sexual Assault Criminal Law

1. What is Defined as Sexual Assault in Canada?

In Canada, sexual assault has a broad definition. Sexual assault includes unsolicited sexual activity like kissing, sexual grabbing, touching, and rape. It is defined as an assault of sexual nature that disturbs the victim's sexual integrity.

2. Is Sexual Assault a Criminal Offence in Canada?

Yes, the offense of sexual assault is determined in section 271 of the Criminal Code. Sexual assault is only legal if both parties consent.

3. What is a Level 1 Sexual Assault?

Level 1 sexual assault is any sexual activity without consent (forced on another person). It also involves non-consentient physical contact for a sexual purpose. The victim gets a minor physical injury or no injury in Level 1.

4. What Is It Called When Someone Touches You Inappropriately?

When someone touches you inappropriately, it is called sexual assault. Inappropriate touching that happens against your wish is threatening and violent.

5. How Many Years Can You Get Jail for Sexual Assault in Canada?

If the victim is 16 years and above, the maximum sentence will be 10 years. The maximum sentence for summary conviction will be 18 months in jail. Allegations of aggravated sexual harassment can result in higher compulsions and life imprisonment in some severe cases.

6. What is the Romeo and Juliet Law in Canada?

The Romeo and Juliet Law in Canada denotes Canada's age of consent which is 16 years. When the relationship has trust and dependency, the age of consent can be higher.

Final Words

It goes without saying that the criminal justice system in Canada takes sexual assault cases very seriously. And it is clearly mentioned in the sexual assault Criminal Code of Canada. The offense of sexual assault has uniquely adverse effects on victims. So in any circumstances, sexual assault is never the victim’s fault.