(Note: names have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients)
The Case: R. v. Richard H.- Superior Court of Justice, Hamilton
The Facts: Our client is a young man in his twenties, sociable and single. He met a young woman at a party. They were both drunk and he invited her over to his apartment which was a couple of blocks away, to hang out and watch Netflix. She agreed, and while he was setting up his laptop to look for a show to watch, she fell asleep. They each have two different versions of what happened after that. She claims to have woken up during the night to find him on top of her, having sexual intercourse with her without her consent. He says that they woke up the next morning, a bit hung over, but in good spirits. They had consensual sex, until her phone rang. It was her boyfriend calling to find out why she had not come home that night. She quickly got dressed and Richard M. offered her a ride home, which she accepted, and he gave her his number to stay in touch. She texted him later that day to say she was going to the police. He was charged with raping her (sexual assault), because she alleges that he had sex with her while she was asleep/unconscious, which is illegal.
The Defence: The defence was that the sex happened in the morning when both were awake and alert. From the evidence brief, we learned more about her whereabouts the night before, and learned that she had been drinking with a friend at a downtown pub. Her friend told police that the complainant was not feeling well, that she believed she had been drugged. Her friend put her in a cab and paid the driver to take her to her boyfriend’s place, who was waiting up for her. She never arrived. Instead, she ended up at the party where she met our client. At a preliminary inquiry (a very valuable tool for the defence in cases like these), we were able to question the complainant, her friend, and the boyfriend, to examine her story and prepare the defence for trial. We learned very valuable information that had a direct impact on the case.
The Trial: This was a good case for a jury, because it involved facts more than complex legal principles, and because determining what had happened was going to be more based on common sense (which twelve regular citizens are well-suited for). We picked a jury that we felt would be fair and balanced. They were. Over five days, we challenged the complainant’s version of events, and presented that of our client. Evidence uncovered at the preliminary inquiry became critical to casting doubt on her story. It turned out that her relationship was on shaky ground, and she needed to come up with a good story for her boyfriend about where she was that night. That gave her motive to fabricate a claim of rape, which caused her boyfriend to rally to her side and support her. Injuries, that she attributed to our client during rough sex, turned out to be bruises from a drunken fall at the bar, confirmed by her friend.
The Result: Despite some tricky aspects to the case, including some evidence inconsistent with our client’s version of events, we were able to highlight sufficient weaknesses with the case to persuade the jury that the Crown had not proven the case, and the jury found Richard M. Not Guilty of the charge. Instead of years in the penitentiary and registration as a sex offender, Richard M. was able to resume his career, which involves regular travel to the US as a sales rep. Had he been found guilty, he would never have set foot in the U.S. again. There is no second place finish in a criminal trial: winning is the only option. And in today’s political climate around sexual assault, it is becoming harder to be found Not Guilty. There is no substitute for the knowledge and experience of a seasoned trial lawyer.Back
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