Experienced Sexual Assault Lawyers in Winnipeg

Sexual assault cases are among the most sensitive and complex legal matters. These cases require legal representation to navigate the intricate legal terrain and safeguard the rights of the accused.

At Wiebe Criminal Defence, we understand the gravity of sexual assault allegations and the profound impact they can have on your life.
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Get Legal Representation From Trusted Sexual Assault Lawyers

Our team of experienced sexual assault lawyers is dedicated to providing compassionate, yet strategic legal support tailored to each client’s unique circumstances. We are deeply committed to seeking justice. We advocate tirelessly for our clients and ensure they get fair treatment and due process.

What Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault occurs when an individual engages in a sexual act with another person without that person’s explicit consent. The offence of sexual assault is set out in section 271 of the Criminal Code.

When it comes to sexual assault, consent (s. 273.1(1)) is a crucial factor – it must be informed, voluntary, and ongoing throughout any sexual interaction. Therefore, any form of sexual activity without clear consent can be considered sexual assault. This includes (but is not limited to) unwanted touching and kissing without consent. It also includes more severe forms of sexual violence, including rape. Moreover, engaging in sex with someone under the age of consent (s. 150.1 (1)) is considered sexual assault even if the minor has attempted to provide consent, because they are not legally able to do so.

Components of a Sexual Assault Charge

Understanding the intricacies of sexual assault charges requires familiarity with its components. This can help distinguish this criminal offence from others. Fundamentally, sexual assault charges can be broken down into three critical components:


Lack of Consent

At the heart of any sexual assault charge is the absence of consent. As mentioned earlier, consent must be active, enthusiastic, and specific to each act. Consent is, therefore, absent if the victim does not express agreement, changes their mind during the act, is incapacitated, or is below the age of consent. It's important to note that consent cannot be obtained through coercion, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.


Physical Contact

The term 'sexual act' is broadly defined and includes any form of unwanted sexual contact. As mentioned above, this can range from inappropriate touching to more severe forms of sexual violations.



It is not enough for the accused to claim they held a belief that the other party consented to the sexual act(s) (s. 273.2). Sexual assault can occur when a perpetrator is aware that there is a lack of consent, but it can also occur when an individual is reckless or willfully blind to whether the other part has consented or not.

Types of Sexual Assault Charges That We Defend

Canadian law recognizes several types of sexual assault charges. These charges are distinguished by the severity of the offence and the presence of aggravating factors:

  • Sexual Assault (s. 271) occurs when an assailant engages in a sexual act without the victim’s consent, violating their sexual integrity. This type of assault can take place in various settings, including intimate relationships, social gatherings, or public spaces.
  • Sexual Assault with a Weapon, Threats to a Third Party, or Causing Bodily Harm (s. 272) applies when the sexual assault involves the use or threat of a weapon, threatens to cause harm to another person, or results in bodily injury to the victim. Harmful behaviour also includes acts such as strangulation or suffocation.
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault (s. 273) is the most serious sexual assault charge. It applies in cases where the victim is wounded, maimed, disfigured, or their life is endangered during the assault.

At Wiebe Criminal Defence, our experienced team is well-versed in defending clients facing a range of sexual assault charges in Winnipeg and beyond. Leveraging detailed evidence assessment and strategic legal insights, we advocate for our client’s rights, emphasising a fair examination of all allegations.

Sexual Assault With a Weapon, Threats to a Third Party, or Causing Bodily Harm

This offence is a more severe form of sexual assault that involves the presence of certain aggravating factors:

  • Carrying, using, or threatening to use a weapon or an imitation of a weapon during the sexual assault.
  • Threatening to cause bodily harm to a person other than the complainant (victim).
  • Causing bodily harm to the complainant.
  • Choking, suffocating, or strangling the complainant.
  • Being a party to the offence with any other person.

Offences under this section are considered indictable offences, meaning they are more serious crimes.

Our legal team is adept at navigating the complexities of cases involving the aforementioned category of sexual assaults. We build strong defences to challenge the allegations and protect our client’s rights.

Aggravated Sexual Assault

Aggravated sexual assault (s. 273(2)) is characterized by sexual assault that results in bodily harm, including wounding, maiming, disfiguring or endangering the life of the victim. This is among the most serious sexual offences and carries severe legal consequences upon conviction. 

Employing a combination of legal acumen and dedicated advocacy, we strive to ensure that justice is served while upholding the rights and dignity of those we represent.

Whether you’re facing charges of sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, or aggravated sexual assault, you can trust Wiebe Criminal Defence to provide unwavering legal support and representation at every stage of your case.

Defending Against Sexual Assault Charges in Winnipeg

Facing sexual assault charges can be daunting, but there are legal defences available to challenge allegations and protect your rights. At Wiebe Criminal Defence, our experienced team is well-versed in utilising various defence strategies to advocate for our clients effectively. 

Here are some common defences for sexual assault charges.

Consent as a Defence

One of the fundamental defences in sexual assault cases is proving that there was consent. In legal terms, consent must be active, informed, and ongoing throughout any sexual interaction. Therefore, consent cannot be given if someone is incapable (e.g., unconscious, under the influence of drugs), or if consent is obtained by threats, violence, or through abuse of power or trust.

Our defence strategy involves meticulously gathering and presenting evidence that demonstrates consent was given, understanding the nuances of this defence, and how it applies to the specific circumstances of our client’s case.

Mistaken Belief in Consent

Closely related to consent is the defence of mistaken belief in consent. This defence acknowledges that the accused genuinely believed that consent was present, even if it was not. Proving the accused’s belief was reasonable under the circumstances is crucial to successfully leverage this defence. We carefully examine the situation and communication between the parties to establish the reasonableness of the belief in consent.

Challenging Identity

In cases where the assailant’s identity is in question, challenging the accuracy or reliability of witness testimony or evidence linking the accused to the crime can be an effective defence strategy. This may involve presenting evidence of an alibi or casting doubt on the credibility of eyewitnesses. Our team’s experience in handling such intricacies becomes pivotal in disproving the prosecution’s claims about our client’s involvement.

Non-Occurrence of Sexual Activity

There are two ways to mount this defence. The defence can show that the alleged sexual activity did not happen as the accuser said, or it can show that there is not enough evidence to prove it happened. Doing so can weaken the prosecution’s case and lead to either a stay of proceedings or acquittal. This defence strategy involves scrutinising the evidence presented by the prosecution and presenting alternative evidence or accounts that challenge the occurrence of the alleged incident.

Navigating sexual assault charges requires skilled legal representation and a comprehensive understanding of the relevant laws and defences governing this offence. At Wiebe Criminal Defence, we are dedicated to vigorously advocating for our client’s rights and crafting tailored defence strategies to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Legal Age of Consent in Canada

The legal age of consent to sexual activity in Canada is 16 years old, with two close-in-age exceptions. The first exception allows persons aged 12 and 13 to consent to sexual relations with someone less than two years older than them (s. 150.1 (2)). The second exception permits individuals aged 14 and 15 to engage in sexual activity with someone up to four years older, provided there is no relationship of authority, trust, or dependency between them (s. 150.1 (2.1)). These exceptions aim to prevent the criminalization of consensual sexual relationships between teenagers of similar ages.

However, the age of consent is higher (18 years) when the sexual activity involves: .

  • Authority Figures and Positions of Trust (s. 153 (1)): In cases where one person holds a position of authority, trust, or dependency over the other, such as a teacher-student relationship, coach-player dynamic, or babysitter-parent scenario, special considerations apply regarding consent and the potential for sexual exploitation. Individuals in positions of authority are prohibited from engaging in sexual activity with individuals under their care or supervision.
  • Exploitation and Coercion: Even if an individual has reached the age of consent, sexual activity can still be considered illegal if it involves exploitation, manipulation, or coercion. It’s essential to ensure that all sexual activity is based on mutual consent and respect, regardless of age.
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Penalties and Consequences for a Sexual Assault Conviction

In Canada, the penalties for a sexual assault conviction can be severe and life-altering, reflecting the seriousness with which the legal system treats such offences. These penalties are designed not only as punishment but also to serve as a deterrent against the commission of sexual crimes. Understanding these penalties is crucial if you’re facing sexual assault charges.

Sexual assault is a hybrid offence. This means the Crown can proceed with the charge either as an indictable offence or by summary conviction. An indictable offence carries more severe penalties than a summary conviction.


The most immediate and direct consequence of a sexual assault conviction is often imprisonment. The length of the prison sentence can vary widely and is influenced by factors such as the use of a weapon or firearm, the age of the victim, and the degree of violence involved. Currently, the maximum sentences are:

Offence If Indictable Offence If Summary Conviction No Crown Election
Sexual Assault (victim younger than 16 years) 14 years

2 years less
a day

Sexual Assault (victim older than 16 years) 10 years 18 months N/A
Sexual assault causing bodily harm without a firearm N/A N/A 14 years
Sexual assault with a restricted or prohibited firearm N/A N/A 14 years
Sexual assault causing bodily harm with possession of other firearm N/A N/A 14 years
Sexual assault causing bodily harm (victim younger than 16 years) N/A N/A Life imprisonment
Aggravated sexual assault without a firearm N/A N/A Life imprisonment
Aggravated sexual assault possession of other firearm N/A N/A Life imprisonment

Registration as a Sex Offender

The Sex Offender Information Registration Act (S.C. 2004, c. 10) (SOIRA) regulates registration as a sex offender. Previously, individuals convicted of sexual assault were required to register as sex offenders, a status that carries its own set of legal and social implications. 

However, as of October 2023, registration on the National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) for persons convicted of sexual offences is no longer mandatory (Bill S-12). Judges now have discretion to decide whether to impose a SOIRA order based on factors, such as the nature and seriousness of the offence, the victim’s age and relationship to the offender, the offender’s personal characteristics, and expert opinions.

That said, it remains the case that registration is mandatory for individuals convicted of sexual offences against children resulting in prison sentences of two years or more (when the Crown proceeds by indictment), and for repeat sexual offenders.

Moreover, registered sex offenders still have obligations such as reporting changes of address, employment, vehicle ownership, and submitting to periodic compliance checks by police. Failure to comply can result in criminal charges.

Are you unsure about your SOIRA registration requirements or seeking to challenge an existing order? Wiebe Criminal Defence can help you understand the recent changes to SOIRA and provide practical advice on navigating the process.

Ancillary Sentencing Orders

Ancillary orders are court-imposed restrictions placed alongside the main sentence for sexual assault convictions. These aim to protect the victim and society at large, additionally, they sometimes serve to rehabilitate the offender. Some common ancillary orders for sexual assault cases include:

  • No-contact Orders: These prohibit the offender from contacting the victim in any way, directly or indirectly. This is crucial for victim safety and healing.
  • DNA Orders: The offender must provide a DNA sample for a national database used to solve future crimes.
  • SOIRA Orders: Depending on the severity of the crime, the offender might be forced to register as a sex offender for a period of 10 years, 20 years, or even life. This helps law enforcement track high-risk individuals.
  • Section 161 Orders (for crimes involving children): These restrict the offender’s access to places where children frequent or limit the offender’s internet usage to prevent them from grooming or harming children again.

These are just some examples, and the specific ancillary orders imposed will depend on the individual circumstances of the case.

Impact on Employment and Social Standing

A sexual assault conviction can have profound implications for one’s employment opportunities and social standing. Given the nature of the crime, individuals may find it challenging to secure employment, especially in sectors that involve trust or working with vulnerable populations. They may struggle to rent a property, or engage in community activities. The social stigma associated with sexual assault convictions can also lead to isolation and difficulties in personal relationships.

At Wiebe Criminal Defence, we are acutely aware of the devastating impact a sexual assault conviction can have on an individual’s life. With this understanding, we approach each case with the utmost dedication and precision, aiming to protect our client’s rights and advocate for the best possible outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding the legal complexities surrounding sexual assault cases can be challenging. Here are answers to some common questions to provide clarity on key concepts and terms.

What is Sexual Interference?

Sexual interference (s. 151) refers to a specific criminal offence under Canadian law that involves any form of sexual activity with a person under the age of 16, regardless of any attempt to obtain consent. It is designed to protect minors from sexual exploitation and abuse. The act itself involves touching, directly or indirectly – with a body part or even an object – any part of the body of a person under 16 with a sexual purpose. 

This charge highlights the importance of age in determining consent, with the law clearly stating that individuals under 16 cannot legally consent to sexual activity with an adult, making any such interaction subject to criminal prosecution.

What is an Invitation to Sexual Touching?

An invitation to sexual touching (s. 152) is another offence that specifically relates to minors under Canadian law. This offence aims to safeguard minors from being drawn into sexual activities, emphasising the protection of their physical and psychological well-being. This offence occurs when someone invites, counsels, convinces, or tries to convince (online or in person) a person under the age of 16 to touch themselves, the accused, or someone else for a sexual purpose. It’s important to note that for this offence to be committed, actual physical touching need not be present. Simply inviting or encouraging it is enough.

What is the National Sex Offender Registry?

The NSOR is a database maintained by law enforcement agencies in Canada, intended to monitor and track individuals convicted of designated sex offences. Its goal is to help police agencies take proactive measures to prevent future sexual crimes and prevent recidivism, thereby contributing to public safety. As mentioned above, registration is mandatory for those convicted of serious sexual assault against children and repeat offenders. Registration on the NSOR is discretionary in all other cases. If you are convicted and required to register on the NSOR, you will have to provide personal information about yourself and notify authorities of any changes in residence or employment.

Contact an Experienced Sexual Assault Lawyer Today

Sexual offence cases can be highly complex, and if you or a loved one is facing allegations of sexual assault, it’s crucial to seek legal guidance from a trusted and experienced lawyer as soon as possible. At Wiebe Criminal Defence, we offer confidential and comprehensive consultations to discuss your case and explore your legal options. 

Our dedicated team understands the gravity of sexual assault charges and is committed to providing compassionate yet vigorous representation to protect your rights and advocate for your innocence.