sexual assault law alberta

In Alberta, any non-consensual sexual activity between two individuals is considered sexual assault. This article provides crucial information about the different types of sexual assault that are classified in Alberta, legal definitions and penalties, and resources available to victims.

Legal Definitions and Penalties

The penalties for sexual assault in Alberta can vary depending on the severity of the offense. Sexual assault can be classified as either a summary conviction offense or an indictable offense, depending on the circumstances.


Summary conviction offenses are less serious and carry lighter penalties, while indictable offenses are more serious and carry heavier penalties.


For a summary conviction offense, the maximum penalty is 18 months in jail and a $5,000 CAD fine. For an indictable offense, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment. The judge will consider several factors when determining the appropriate penalty, including the severity of the assault, the age of the victim, and the offender’s criminal history.

Types of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault can be classifed in various forms, including:

Sexual Touching or Groping

It refers to any wrongful touching of an individual’s intimate area without their consent. This form of sexual assault takes place without explicit approval of the victim and can range from touching with hands, objects, or coerced touching.


Sexual touching or groping can happen anywhere, including public places, parties, or private spaces. It can happen to anyone, irrespective of age, gender, sexual orientation, or relationship status.


The victim of sexual touching or groping may face emotional effects such as depression, anxiety, or shame, in addition to physical discomfort, pain, or injury.

Sexual Interference

Is the act of having sexual contact with an individual under 16 years of age or someone vulnerable to sexual coercion, such as a patient or a client. Sexual interference is considered a serious sexual offence in Alberta.


Sexual interference covers a broad range of sexual activities, such as touching, kissing, or even sexual penetration. It can take place in various settings, such as homes, schools, religious institutions, and sports teams.


Consent is not a justification for engaging sexually with a child under 16 years of age. It is illegal for an adult to have any sexual contact with a minor, no matter how willing or curious the child may seem.


Like sexual touching or groping, sexual interference victims may suffer both physical and emotional distress, including pain, discomfort, injury, anxiety, depression, or guilt.


Sexual interference can take several forms, including sexual touching, kissing, or intercourse. It is imperative to note that consent is not a defence against sexual interference.


In other words, it is unlawful for an adult to engage in any sexual activity with a child under the age of 16, even if the child appears willing or initiates the activity.

Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation refers to any sexual activity that exploits someone’s vulnerability or powerlessness. This can include prostitution, pornography, or sexual harassment.

Sexual Assault with a Weapon

Sexual assault with a weapon happens when an offender uses a weapon to threaten or intimidate the victim during a sexual assault. The weapon can be a knife, gun, or any other type of weapon.

Aggravated Sexual Assault

Aggravated sexual assault refers to sexual assault that results in serious bodily harm to the victim or occurs when more than one individual is involved in the assault.

Victims of Sexual Assault

Victims of sexual interference may have physical and emotional responses. The physical effects may include pain, discomfort, or injury in the areas touched. Emotional effects may include anxiety, depression, shame, or guilt.


Sexual assault centres can assist with counselling, support groups, and referrals to other support services. Medical attention may be necessary to address physical injuries or to offer emergency contraception or sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing.


In conclusion, it is important to remember that sexual assault in Alberta has many forms, legal definitions, and associated penalties. It’s necessary to understand the relevant terminology and what each type means for a complainant or victim of a sexual offense.


DDSG Criminal Law has a number of expert lawyers with years of experience in this area. Contact us today to learn more.