Unlike most criminal sex offences, child luring does not require that a sexual offence actually occurred or that there was even any attempt. All that has to be shown is that the accused intended to communicate with someone that he or she believed to be a minor and under a certain age, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a specified secondary offence (abduction or a sexual offence). “Facilitating” includes helping to bring about and making easier or more probable — for example, by “luring” or “grooming” young persons to commit or participate in the prohibited conduct; by reducing their inhibitions; or by prurient discourse that exploits a young person’s curiosity, immaturity or precocious sexuality.
At Aitken Robertson, we understand the frustration and confusion that come along with charges such as this. Our firm of talented and experienced lawyers have been defending clients in the Peterborough and surrounding areas for years, and this is charge, like all criminal matters, we have the knowledge to defend.
What Are the Penalties of Child Luring?
Charges of this nature affect an accused arguably unlike any other criminal charges. The penalties are high and the social stigma is enormous. The offence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of one year of imprisonment and a maximum of 14 years when the Crown proceeds by indictment. However, strategic defences are available to help you navigate this specific charge.
Sex Offender Registry
If you are convicted of certain sexual offences such as child luring, you will be registered in Canada’s national sexual offender registry and will have to comply with its requirements. The database in which the information is kept is called the National Sex Offender Registry. This database is administered by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and provides police with access to current information on convicted sex offenders to assist in the prevention or investigation of sexual offences.
Your information in this SOIRA registry is accessible throughout the country to Canadian Police agencies. The general public does not have access to your information in the database. If you are convicted in Ontario you probably also have to register in the Ontario Sex Offender Registry (OSOR). A conviction for child luring will result in a mandatory SOIRA order, which means a judge has no discretion in the matter and must make the order.
Your Possible Defences
In cases of alleged luring, where it has been represented to the accused that the person with whom he or she is communicating by computer is underage, the accused is presumed to have believed that the person was in fact underage. This presumption is rebuttable upon “evidence to the contrary,” which must include evidence that the accused took reasonable steps to ascertain the person’s age, and that the accused believes that the person was not underage.
Many of our clients inquire about the defence of ‘entrapment’. A typical entrapment scenario is when law enforcement uses coercion and other overbearing tactics to induce someone to commit a crime. It is important to know that entrapment is not a defence. You cannot be acquitted of an offence because you were entrapped. Rather, entrapment is a motion for a stay of proceedings because of an abuse of process by the police. The motion comes after the accused has been convicted. It is the accused who has the onus to establish on a balance of probabilities that he or she was entrapped. A stay of proceedings means that the accused has not been found guilty.