Earlier this month, at the close of a preliminary inquiry, the Crown stayed a set of charges against one of my clients who had been accused of touching an underage girl. Under cross-examination, the witness admitted that she could not tell if the accusations were a figment of her imagination, or whether it was something that had actually transpired. Not surprisingly, the allegations themselves were barren; there was not an ounce of detail to be found. Still, prosecution policy in Ontario requires vigorous prosecutions of such offences, even on seemingly improbable allegations. What I found startling, however, was the frequency at which false accusations are unearthed throughout the process. Unlike my recent case involving a falsely accused taxi driver, this particular clients case will remain forever sealed away from the public's eyes. Essentially, as a result of thorough preparation and carefully crafted cross-examination, the truth surfaced, and thus the client was not committed to stand trial on any of the three alleged counts. These types of false accusations surface most often in the midst of domestic disputes or acrimonious divorces, where emotions are running high and malice ensues.
In many cases, we are able to have charges dismissed, or stayed at the preliminary inquiry stage, sparing the client from the public stigmatization which inevitably ensues from sexual or domestic type charges. It is important that clients contact us at the earliest sign of potential police intervention, to ensure that no steps are missed along the way which may jeopardize their case.
There are other sections of the Criminal Code that modify the common law and statutorily codified definition of consent. They are beyond the scope of this article. Further reading can be found at section 153.1(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada.