Frequently Asked Questions
How do False Accusations Impact a Person in School, at Work or as a Regulated Professional?
Accusations of sexual assault can have major consequences even if they are false. Each of these three contexts have different processes that exist outside of criminal law for dealing with sexual assault allegations. In the workplace, if an employee is accused of sexually assaulting a co-worker or customer in the course of their work, they may be suspended for a period either with or without pay. The exact measure taken depends on the specific employer’s policy or any applicable employment contract.
Schools, universities, and colleges can impose interim measures on an accused individual while the incident is being investigated. These measures might include requiring the accused to always keep a certain distance from the complainant. This measure can have additional consequences. For example, if a person from Brampton is attending university and is in the same class as the complainant, they will be unable to attend that class until the matter is resolved in some manner.
Regulated professionals such as doctors or lawyers have stricter standards to follow. Due to the positions of trust they occupy in society, their employment is governed by special profession-specific laws that set out the procedures for dealing with and investigating sexual assault allegations. Every regulated professional has a legal duty to self-report any time they believe they have engaged in conduct that is unbecoming of a member of the profession. A possible sexual assault easily satisfies this standard. The professional consequences of failing to report could lead to a professional having their license to practice in their field revoked.
How Do Independent Investigations Work in These Contexts?
Educational institutions and the administrative bodies that oversee regulated professions have specific methods they must follow to investigate sexual assault allegations that are independent of law enforcement. Schools and other similar institutions must follow their own sexual or gender violence policies that they developed in accordance with Ontario law. They policies can be very broadly drafted, which makes it difficult for an accused person to defend against or dispute the allegations against them. Many accused persons may find themselves railroaded towards an outcome as part of this procedure.
Each body that oversees a regulated profession like the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario or the Law Society of Ontario has specific investigation procedures within their enabling legislation. These investigations are independent and often lead to disciplinary proceedings that operate according to the applicable law. These proceedings are then published and made available to the public. The results of these administrative proceedings may then be subject to judicial review in certain circumstances.
What are the Rights of a Someone Accused of Sexual Assault in Brampton?
A person who is criminally charged with sexual assault under s. 271 of the Criminal Code or a similar offence has the same rights as any accused person. Section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees several rights upon arrest. They include the right to be notified of the reason for arrest, the specifics of the offence and when it was committed. An accused person can also challenge the legal validity of their arrest.
Perhaps most important to individuals accused of sexual assault is the right to counsel. Once arrested, every individual will be given the opportunity to contact a lawyer, such as our counsel in Brampton. It is important that an accused take advantage of this because a lawyer will instruct them on how to best exercise their rights. Typically, that advice will be not to respond to the police’s attempts at interrogation. Many sexual assault cases are decided based on the testimony of the accused and the complainant and because of this, police will do anything they can to draw out useful information or twist something an accused says. Anything an accused says will be put on record and cannot be rescinded, so the less information the police have at their disposal, the better.
What are the Civil Law Implications of a Sexual Assault Charge?
Criminal liability is not the only legal issue facing someone charged with sexual assault. They may also face civil liability and may be sued by the complainant for the tort of battery. If a victim sues the offender following a conviction for sexual assault, they will almost certainly be found liable for committing the tort of battery. This is because the burden of proof in civil courts is lower than criminal courts. Therefore, if a person has been convicted of sexual assault, the issue in civil court becomes what the effect of it was on the victim and what the value of that damage was. Furthermore, because the standard for civil liability is lower, in that plaintiffs need to only demonstrate that something is more likely than not to have happened, a person found not guilty of a criminal offence may still be civilly liable.