As we have mentioned previously, there are certain requirements that the Crown must meet to convict a defendant of a criminal charge. While that threshold of "beyond a reasonable doubt" applies to all criminal charges, it is especially important for serious crimes, such as sexual offences. As the punishment for such a charge can be quite severe, it is vital for defendants to work with their criminal defence lawyers to question the Crown's case and force them to provide only credible evidence to support a conviction.
Sometimes, however, the Crown fails to provide that evidence and its case falls apart. When this happens, a judge must acquit a defendant, recognizing that there just isn't enough evidence for a conviction.
For two Toronto businessmen, the Crown's lack of evidence led to just such an acquittal for charges of sexual assault, administering noxious substance and gang sexual assault. The case, which arouse out of an incident in December 2009, centered on the two men who were accused of giving a woman a date-rape drug and then assaulting her.
The judge, however, noted that just because the woman testified to not remembering everything from the night does not mean that she was incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse, but that she was too intoxicated to do so. The judge's decision relied on expert testimony that indicated that the woman could have been so intoxicated that she blacked out, but that does not necessarily mean she could not still consent to sex.
The Crown is unhappy with this verdict and has vowed to appeal.
Source: Toronto Sun, "Toronto gan sex assault acquittal appealed," Sam Pazzano, 23 Oct. 2013