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Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault: Your Rights and Options For Seeking Help

It can be overwhelming to imagine being accused or even found guilty of a crime you did not commit. If you have been falsely accused of sexual assault, others may disparage your character before even hearing your version of events.

False claims in a sexual assault prosecution have the potential to harm your reputation and future. Because of this, you need to be ready to act if someone makes false accusations against you. This article contains some guidance on your rights and options if you have been accused of a sexual crime or sexual assault in Toronto.

Getting knowledgeable and professional legal representation as soon as possible is the most effective strategy to counter false allegations of sexual abuse. To start working with a Toronto sexual assault lawyer, call Alex Karapancev at (416) 613-9984 immediately.

The Presumption of Innocence

You may be concerned about being falsely convicted if you are the subject of serious, but unfounded, charges of sexual abuse. Understanding what it means to be innocent until proven guilty is crucial in this scenario. There is a presumption that you are innocent until proven otherwise. Before you may be found guilty, the Crown must disprove that presumption and satisfy its burden of proof.

The burden of proof in criminal prosecutions is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of establishing proof beyond a reasonable doubt rests with the Crown prosecutor. It is not your responsibility to establish your innocence.

Retain a Lawyer Immediately 

You have the right to legal counsel whether or not the accusations made against you have resulted in charges. If the police contact you requesting an interview, you should consult with a lawyer prior to deciding whether or not to provide any statement. You are not required to allow the police into your home, or respond to any questions about the allegations as a matter of law. In fact, unless you’ve consulted with a defence lawyer, you shouldn’t respond to any inquiries about alleged sex crimes.

Section 10(b) of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms safeguards your right to Counsel on detention and arrest. As a result, you have the right to consult with counsel immediately upon your arrest. When you are being questioned by the police after being arrested, you should assert your rights to silence and to retain and instruct counsel without delay. 

Exercise your right to silence

Statements you make to friends and family, the media, or other people could be used against you because of the extremely charged discourse surrounding sexual assault allegations. You may be tempted to defend yourself publicly if you have been falsely accused of sexual assault or rape. However, this is unlikely to benefit you or your case. You run the risk of having your words taken as victim blaming, which would turn general opinion against you. For instance, making remarks about the other person’s appearance, sexual history, or reputation is likely to backfire.

The best course of action is to remain silent in the wake of an accusation. It is challenging, especially when you hear slander being thrown around your name. If you remain silent, however, it is difficult for your silence to be used against you. To resist the urge to defend yourself, it may be wise to take a social media hiatus and keep your social circle tight. Everything you have said or done could be scrutinized in the wake of an accusation.

Instead of speaking publicly, it is wise to consult with an experienced Toronto sexual assault lawyer. If you have been accused of sexual assault, you will require legal representation. Some people choose to defend themselves against these charges as they think their innocence will speak louder than the state’s case. Unfortunately, given their naivety when it comes to the law, many lay people make legal mistakes, resulting in convictions, jail sentences, and getting listed on the sex offender registry. Given what is at stake, including one’s freedom and reputation, it is prudent to seek legal counsel whenever you are charged with sexual assault.

Preserve Relevant Evidence

Preserve as much proof as you can to support your innocence while you wait to speak with your lawyer. If video evidence exists from the situation in question, even CCTV footage from a condo or bar, it should be preserved. Your attorney has to be aware of any video evidence that might have captured the alleged occurrence. Give your lawyer any evidence, including copies of pictures from the alleged occurrence, text messages between you and the alleged victim, or other pieces of information that will help your case.

If formal charges are brought against you, you should not give this evidence to anybody except your lawyer, as you do not want the evidence falling into the wrong hands. This evidence may help your lawyer establish your innocence in court. In order to assess if they should testify in your defence, your attorney will contact possible witnesses to find out more details about the occurrence in question and your relationship with the alleged victim.

One way to demonstrate that a sexual assault did not occur is by proving that consent was obtained. However, consent can be almost impossible to prove, which makes it a very challenging issue to demonstrate. It is possible that the other person expressed excitement about having sex with you through text messages, but that does not mean that they gave their consent in the moment that the alleged incident occurred. Despite what many may believe, prior consent to sexual activity is not a bulletproof defence as consent can be revoked.

Nevertheless, you should still preserve copies of every electronic communication between you and the complainant and provide them to your lawyer. This is especially true if the alleged victim tried to blackmail you. In some cases, the complainant tries to use threats against the other party to get money, continue the relationship, or fulfill other “requirements” to prevent them from going to the police. Any written documentation of these demands can help your case.

Defences in Sexual Assault Cases

Karapancev Law has a lengthy track record of successfully fighting sexual assault cases in the GTA as well as throughout Ontario. Our criminal lawyers in Toronto have expertise using a number of defences, including:

  • The sexual activity forming the allegations was consensual;
  • The client had an honest but mistaken belief in communicated consent;
  • The allegation was a complete fabrication;
  • The Crown cannot prove the identification of the accused.

Karapancev Law has successfully defended numerous people accused of sex crimes. Understanding the Criminal Code, evidentiary procedures, and the different kinds of evidence that can be used in court is essential when defending against accusations of sexual assault. We employ every tool we have to disprove these allegations. We are familiar with how to offer the strongest evidence and defences in court due to our vast experience. This includes bringing applications, when relevant, to adduce the complainant’s own medical/counselling records, and proof of the complainant’s prior sexual activity. To assist accused individuals in their defence, we have experience retaining private investigators, pharmacologists, forensic psychiatrists, forensic toxicologists, and other specialists.

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Alexander Karapancev

Alexander Karapancev is a Toronto criminal lawyer practicing throughout the province of Ontario. He regularly serves as lead trial counsel on serious and complex criminal cases. He is the founder of Karapancev Law, a law firm representing clients facing criminal charges, regulatory offences, and professional discipline proceedings.

Mr. Karapancev has acted as counsel in hundreds of cases throughout the province of Ontario, regularly representing clients at trials, applications, bail hearings and preliminary inquiries. He is regularly retained to defend individuals charged with serious allegations of fraud, drug trafficking, DUI offences, domestic assault, and sexual assault. Prior to founding his law firm, Mr. Karapancev practiced criminal defence at a boutique Toronto law firm and also served as a per diem Crown prosecutor.

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