Last updated 3 May 2016

Whether or not a complainant makes a formal police complaint, it is important that the complainant be medically examined as soon as possible after the assault so as to:

  • detect and treat any physical injuries, especially internal injuries that may not be readily apparent
  • test for sexually transmitted diseases and/or pregnancy
  • collect forensic medical evidence for the purposes of a possible prosecution.

A timely forensic medical examination is often a key item of evidence for police and prosecutors. The examination may involve an internal examination, DNA testing and the recording of any injuries. The kinds of specimens that may be taken include combings of pubic hair, vaginal or anal swabs to test for presence of semen, scrapings from under the fingernails and saliva.

Proof of physical injury

It is not necessary for the Crown to prove that physical injuries were caused to the complainant, though any evidence of physical injury will be considered to be corroborative (supportive) of the Crown’s case.

The law still allows the defence to comment on a lack of physical injury, which may be relevant to the circumstances of the case. For example, the statement given by the complainant might indicate that injuries would be expected and, in that case, the absence of injury might be a cause for comment by the defence.