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Child Sexual Offences in Canada – What’s There to Know?

The law in Canada takes criminal offences involving children very seriously. There are an array of ways in which one could be charged with a sexual offence involving a child. This blog will provide a brief snapshot of the law in this area.

Codified Sexual Offences in Canada

The Criminal Code of Canada protects all Canadians from sexual assault, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. For example, the law protects everyone, including children, against sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated sexual assault, voyeurism, human trafficking and non-consensual distribution of intimate images. This is certainty not an exhaustive list but just enough to give you an idea of what constitutes a criminal offence.

Child Sexual Offences in Canada

The Criminal Code protects children through child-specific offences. These include sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation and child pornography.

A Word on Child Pornography

Child pornography can be characterized as any one of the below:

  • any representation of a person who actually is or is depicted as being under the age of 18 years and engaged in explicit sexual activity
  • any representation whose dominant characteristic is the depiction of the sexual organs or the anal region of a person under the age of 18 for a sexual purpose
  • written, visual and/or audio materials that advocate and entice unlawful sexual activity with a person under the age of 18
  • written, visual and/or audio materials where the dominant characteristic is the unlawful sexual activity with a person under the age of 18 and for a sexual purpose

The Criminal Code of Canada makes it a criminal offence for child pornography to be:

  • made
  • distributed
  • made available
  • sold
  • possessed or accessed
  • advertised
  • exported or imported

The penalties for these offences following a conviction range from 10 to 14 years of imprisonment.

The Criminal Offence of Luring a Child

It is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code for a person to use the Internet to communicate with a minor for the purpose of committing a sexual or abduction offence against the minor. The offence is sometimes referred to as “internet luring”. The maximum penalty for this type of offence is 14 years imprisonment.

The Criminal Offence of Exposure involving a Child

It is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code for a person to expose their genital organs for a sexual person to a person under the age of 16 years. The maximum penalty for this offence is 2 years of imprisonment.

The Criminal Offence of Child Prostitution

It is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code for a person to:

  • purchase the sexual services of persons under the age of 18
  • materially benefit from child prostitution in any way, shape or form
  • encourage or motivate a person under the age of 18 to participate in prostitution

The maximum penalties for these offences range from 10 to 14 years of imprisonment.

Sex Tourism Involving a Child

It is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code for a person who is a permanent resident or Canadian citizen to travel outside of Canada and engage in sexual activity with a minor. This is against the law in Canada notwithstanding the conduct is being committed outside the country.

Take Away

There are a number of criminal offences codified in the Criminal Code respecting the involvement of a minor, particularly, in a sexual capacity. These are all serious offences and carry severe penalties such as lengthy terms of imprisonment, not to mention, a criminal record that will follow the person around for life. If you or someone you know has been charged with a related criminal offence, contact our office for a 30-minute free consultation and learn how we can help.

Yasmine Al-Zaman

Yasmine’s patience, compassion and understanding allow her to work collaboratively and effectively with her clients. She appreciates the level of fear and confusion most people feel when confronted with the legal system. With that in mind, Yasmine puts her best foot forward to offer quality legal services.

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