Why Consent Is Key to Sexual Assault Offences

PUBLISHED ON January 18, 2018

Sexual Assault Offences Lawyer

Being charged with any sexual assault offence is a serious crime. If you are convicted and found guilty of the offence, not only can you face imprisonment, you can also have your reputation ruined for the rest of your life. Further, you can be placed on the Sexual Offender Registry which can have a very significant impact on your life.

In order to be found guilty of sexual assault, the Crown must prove the accused applied force, either directly or indirectly, of a sexual manner while knowing the victim did not provide consent, or withdrew consent prior to the act.  It is very important to know that “consent” can be given but can also be rescinded.  That is, a person can withdraw their consent at any time.  For instance, if a person consents to kissing and light touching, but then pulls away or tells you to stop, that person is withdrawing their consent. Continuing to engage in sexual acts or forcing the other person to continue would constitute a sexual act without consent and therefore, a sexual assault.

In addition, consent is not able to be given when a person is not in the right state of mind to give it. If they are intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, or lack the mental capacity to give consent, engaging in sexual acts with that person could result in a sexual assault offence. In addition, cases where coercion is used to elicit consent from the victim, consent is considered null because consent cannot be given under duress.

As you can imagine, this can make engaging in sexual acts rather complicated. Even cohabitating and married couples have to ensure consent is present prior to engaging in sexual acts.

To help protect yourself, it is highly recommended to always obtain clear consent prior to engaging in sexual acts.   Again, whether it is kissing, light touching, or actual intercourse, consent has to be present. If the other person has been drinking, using drugs, or is otherwise not in a state of mind to give consent, then there is NO consent and sexual contact must be avoided.

The aforementioned is not legal advice and should not be acted on as legal advice.  It is for general information only and there are exceptions to this general information.  If you have been charged with sexual assault, it is in your best interests to speak with Toronto criminal defence lawyer like Brian Ross. There are several ways to build a strategic defence to the charges, and I have successfully defended others facing this criminal offence. Call my office at (416) 658-5855 to schedule a consultation now!


A criminal record can have lifelong ramifications. Don't take a chance with an inexperienced attorney. I will fight to get your life back as I have done with countless others before you.

(416) 658-5855

Brian Ross is a founding partner at Canada’s largest criminal Law firm, Rusonik, O’Connor, Robbins, Ross & Angelini, LLP. Prior to founding this firm, Brian was a partner at Pinkofskys, a leading law firm famous for its vigorous defence of its clients.

Selected for the 2022, 2023, and 2024 editions of the Best Lawyers in Canada

Inclusion in the Best Lawyers in Canada is based on a rigorous peer-review survey. Recognition by Best Lawyers symbolizes excellence in practice and specifically, high calibre work in criminal defence.


Mr. Ross is a member of the Criminal Lawyer’s Association and Legal Aid Ontario’s “Extremely Serious Matters” Panel, consisting of criminal lawyers deemed to have the proven experience necessary to conduct trials in the most serious of criminal matters.


You will be contacted to discuss the case in confidence.