Can I be charged with sexual assault in Canada based on one person’s word alone?
Yes. One of the most common misconceptions I see in my practice is the idea that the word of an accuser (also known as a complainant or alleged victim) is not evidence of a sexual assault. Or, so the misconception goes, it is not enough evidence to warrant a prosecution.
The truth is that many sexual assault prosecutions are based entirely on one person’s allegation. In these cases, there is no medical evidence, incriminating text messages, recordings of the alleged offence, statements from the accused person, or anything else that might support the allegation.
The mere allegation itself can be enough for the prosecution against you to proceed and for you to be found guilty.
Corroboration is not required.
In law, we regularly speak of corroboration or corroborative evidence. This type of evidence is separate from the word of the accuser. For example, medical evidence might support an allegation that a complainant was too drunk to consent to sex.
The Criminal Code of Canada provides corroborative evidence is not required for a sexual assault conviction.
Sexual assault is hard to prove without more than the word of the accuser.
As a criminal accused, you can be found guilty only if the prosecutor (known as the Crown in Canada) proves your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Although the word of an accuser can be enough for a conviction, proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is hard to do without more than an allegation.
Hiring a lawyer if charged with sexual assault
Most criminal defence firms – including ours – will speak to individuals charged with sexual assault at no initial charge. The consequences of an offence of this nature can be severe and having legal counsel can minimize or eliminate them.
You can speak to a lawyer now by calling us at (416) 999-8389, emailing us, or completing an initial consultation form.