September 8, 2021 – We’ve put together a factsheet to help break down the issues in LEAF’s upcoming intervention in R. v. Sullivan and R. v. Chan!
These cases will examine the defence of “self-induced extreme intoxication” under Canadian criminal law. The Criminal Code says that where a person is accused of certain violent offences, including sexual assault, they are not allowed to use their own extreme intoxication as a defence. Last year, the Court of Appeal for Ontario held that this rule violates the Charter rights of accused persons. The Supreme Court will soon decide whether it agrees.
LEAF will focus on the need to balance Charter rights in deciding whether accused persons should have access to this defence – including women’s equality rights and rights to security of the person, as well as the rights of the accused. LEAF will also examine the role of Parliament in enacting laws to hold people accountable, including for their actions while extremely intoxicated.
If the Supreme Court finds that accused persons should have access to the defence, there is a danger that sexual assault survivors will see this as yet another way the justice system has failed them. For this reason, it is particularly important that those writing about and commenting on this case provide accurate information about the limited availability of the defence, so that survivors who want to report do not see this as a barrier to reporting.
Take a look at the factsheet to learn more about sexual assault and extreme intoxication, and why LEAF is involved in these cases. A plain text version is also available.
If you’d like more information about these cases, contact:
Megan Stephens Law
Counsel to LEAF
Project Director, LEAF