Sexual Assault & The Age of Consent

If you engage in sexual activity with someone who is not of the age of consent, you could face sexual assault charges. Sexual activity has a broad meaning and can range from kissing to sexual intercourse.

Understanding the age of consent

In Canada, the legal age of consent is 16 years old. This is uniform across Canada; it does not change from province to province. However, there are certain situations in which the age of consent is either higher or lower than 16. The age of consent is raised to 18 years old if:

  • The other party is in a position of trust, such as the individual’s teacher, babysitter or employer
  • There is an activity of exploitation, such as prostitution or pornography

The age of consent is lower if the two parties are close in age. The law states that:

  • 12-13 year olds can consent to sexual activity with a partner who is up to two years older
  • 14-15 year olds can consent to sexual activity with a partner who is up to five years older

This would mean, for example, that a 15 year old could consent to sexual activity with a 19 year old. Also, a 13 year old could consent to sexual activity with a 14 year old.

What does the age of consent mean in practical terms?

The age of consent is the age at which an individual can legally agree to sexual activity. Anyone under this age is not considered old enough to make an informed decision. This has very important implications, because if someone under the age of consent engages in sexual activity, any ‘permission’ they have given is essentially void.

The age of consent and sexual assault charges

This means that if you have sexual relations with someone under the age of consent – and you are older or in a position of trust – then you could be charged with sexual assault. This is because the other party did not give their consent, on account of the fact that he/she was not old enough to do so. This applies even if you believe the other party ‘willingly’ participated. It therefore follows that you have imposed an act of a sexual nature on another person without their consent. This amounts to sexual assault. More specifically, you could be accused of statutory rape. This is an offence in Canada which is defined as sexual contact with a person under the age of consent.

Vancouver criminal defence lawyers

Being accused of sexual assault is always a troubling experience. You may be particularly concerned if your job is at stake, perhaps because you are a teacher or in another position of trust. If you have been accused of sexually assaulting a young person, due to the fact that he/she was under the age of consent, you must instruct a criminal defence lawyer. You may feel that you have done nothing wrong, especially if you were not the one to initiate the sexual activity. However, this is not how it will be viewed by the police and/or the courts. You must present a strong defence and/or explain the mitigating factors that limit your culpability. The criminal defence lawyers here at Mickelson & Whysall represent those who are facing sexual assault charges. Contact us for a confidential discussion about your case. Call A Vancouver Lawyer Now – 604.688.8588 (24hrs)

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