The Criminal Code of Canada provides that, under particular circumstances, a charge of sexual assault can be upgraded to a charge of aggravated sexual assault. The law states, "Every one commits an aggravated sexual assault who, in committing a sexual assault, wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant."
Aggravated sexual assault commonly involves a firearm or other weapon, but the charge can also be laid when no weapon is involved. For example, consider the recent arrest of a man who was accused of having unprotected sex and not disclosing that he had been diagnosed with HIV.
The man was previously charged with aggravated assault in 2009 for allegedly having unprotected sex and failing to disclose his medical condition to his sexual partner. Now police claim that he had unprotected sex again in 2013 without disclosing his HIV status. Consequently, he was charged with aggravated sexual assault.
Additionally, police say the man breached his bail conditions in February.
Because of the potentially fatal consequences of contracting HIV, failure to disclose an HIV diagnosis to a sexual partner prior to unprotected sex could result in a charge of sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault.
The penalties for aggravated sexual assault vary, depending on a number of factors, including whether the accused has any prior convictions and whether the alleged victim was younger than 16.
If you would like to learn more about defending against charges of sexual assault and other sex-related charges, please see Neuberger & Partners' sex offence overview.