Order Now No Means No: Consent to Sexual Activity What does it mean to consent to sexual activity? To consent to sexual activity means to agree freely. The law requires that a person take reasonable steps to find out whether the other person is consenting. What is the age of consent to sexual activity? The age of consent in Canada is 16 years. This is the age that criminal law recognizes the legal capacity of a young person to consent to sexual activity.
Generally, it is legal to have sexual contact with someone who is 16 years or older if they agree to have sex with you. Are there situations where a 16 year old cannot consent? It is important to know that in some situations a person must be 18 years old to consent to sexual activity. Depending on what you are doing and who you are doing it with, sexual activity with a person under 18 years-old is illegal. A person under 18 years of age cannot consent to sexual activity if: The other person has a relationship of trust or authority over them, or they are dependent on that person.
People in positions of trust or authority include, for example, a teacher, coach, babysitter, family member, minister or doctor; it involves exploitative activity, such as prostitution or pornography; they are paid, or offered payment, for sex; there is anal sex unless they are a legally married couple. What about persons under 16 years old? There are exceptions for young persons under 16 years of age who have consensual sexual activity with someone close in age.
These exceptions make sure the law does not label consensual activities between young people as criminal offences. It is not a criminal offence if: Can someone else, such as a parent or friend, consent for me? Only YOU can give your consent. You can show by your words OR actions that you do not consent. Actions, such as struggling and trying to leave, show that you do not consent.
The police will not charge you with assault if the force you use is reasonable. You can use the force that is necessary to protect yourself from the attacker. What if I did not resist because I was too afraid?
Even if you did not resist because you were too afraid, the attacker cannot say that you consented. You are not expected to put your life at risk.
The law does not consider that you freely agreed just because you did not struggle or resist. What if I agree to the sexual activity at first, and then I change my mind?
Once you show that you no longer agree to the sexual activity, there is no longer consent. In other words, you can take back your consent. Also, consenting to one kind of sexual activity does not mean you consent to any other sexual activity. You can say NO to anything at any time. Can a person say that I consented if I was drunk? If you are drinking or high on drugs and unable to make a decision, the law does not consider that you consented.
What if the person thought that I consented? If the person honestly and reasonably believed he or she had your consent to sexual activity, it may be a defence.
However, a person cannot use this defence if: The police can charge anyone who forces sexual activity on you with sexual assault. It does not matter if the person is your spouse, your common law partner or your date. What if I agreed to see someone that I met online? Just because you agreed to meet someone, does not mean that you consented to sexual activity. An Overview of Sexual Offences What is sexual assault?
Assault is the intentional use of force against somebody without his or her consent. Trying to use force or threatening to use force may also be assault. Touching, slapping, punching, kicking or pushing are examples of assault. Sexual assault is any kind of assault that is of a sexual nature. Are there different kinds of sexual assault offences? Sexual offences apply to different types of sexual contact, not just rape. The difference between offences depends on the nature of the assault and how much force the person uses.
The law recognizes a range of offences and punishments. Are there other sexual offences? Yes, there are several other sexual offences. This booklet will briefly touch on the following: Invitation to sexual touching is inviting a child under the age of 16 to touch directly or indirectly, the body of any other person.
Sexual interference is touching a child under the age of 16, whether directly or indirectly, for a sexual purpose. Luring a child is communicating with a young person using a computer in order to arrange or commit certain sexual offences. Voyeurism is the secret observation by any means or recording of any person for a sexual purpose, in circumstances where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. The law considers it to be sexual exploitation for anyone in a position of trust or authority over a young person, to engage in sexual activity with them.
This includes a person on whom the young person is dependent. A young person is a person 16 years of age or more, but under 18 years. The courts would determine exploitation by the wrongful conduct of the person in the position of trust rather than the consent of the young person.
The law also provides for the protection of persons with mental or physical disabilities without any age restrictions. The courts would determine exploitation by the wrongful conduct of the exploiter rather than the consent of the young person. Your Rights as a Victim of Sexual Assault If the person who sexually assaulted me is charged, will I have to go to court?
A preliminary hearing is a hearing where a judge decides whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.
If the case goes to trial, the Crown prosecutor can call you as a witness to testify, even against your partner or spouse. Can I get help and support if I go to Court? Victim Services Coordinators can explain the court process to you and help you understand what will happen in court.
Contact the provincial Victim Services Office nearest you. They can tell you about the special supports and assistance to help victims of sexual offences when they testify. They will also tell you about other services and programs for victims such as counseling and crime compensation. Can the defence lawyer get copies of my counseling or medical records and ask me questions? Only if the judge decides this information has something to do with the case. A judge would hold hearings to decide whether the defence lawyer can have the records.
The Crown prosecutor and the Victim Services Coordinator will explain the process to you. Can the defence lawyer use my past sexual activities to suggest that I consented this time?
Your past sexual activities with anyone other than the accused would not be considered relevant to the issue of consent for this particular offence. The defence lawyer cannot use evidence about your past sexual activities to show: Is the trial open to the public?
Usually the trial is open to the public but you have a right to keep your identity protected. This is called a publication ban. Victim Services will explain the various protections that may be available. Sentencing in Sexual Offence Cases What happens when a person is found guilty? Usually the judge will not sentence the offender immediately.
The judge will set a date for sentencing and may ask for a pre-sentence report on the offender. The pre-sentence report is done by a probation officer. Can victims tell the Court how the crime has affected them? Yes, victims have the right to make a written Victim Impact Statement which can be filed with the court when the accused has been found guilty. See the pamphlet Victim Impact Statements. The judge must consider your statement, among other things, in deciding on the sentence.
If you wish, you can ask to read your statement aloud at the sentencing hearing. What type of sentence might an offender get?
The punishments for sexual assault and sexual offences may range from a fine, to life in prison. The judge can also give a suspended sentence or probation.
Convictions for child exploitation offences carry a mandatory minimum sentence. In deciding what sentence to give the judge looks at: What should I do if someone sexually assaults me? Call the police or RCMP.