Trigger Warning – The content herein may be triggering and disturbing to those who have experienced any form of sexual violence in the past.
Cases of sexual assault frequently make headlines in Canada. As a country with a well-established judicial system and a comprehensive Charter of Rights And Freedoms, Canadian laws not only protect the rights of the country’s inhabitants but also makes stringent provisions for any violations thereof.
When a person’s sexual freedom is at stake, the regulations are considerably stricter toward the offender. And if the victim is a child, the punishment’s severity and sensitivity rise to a whole new level.
However, not every sexual act constitutes an assault against a minor. The latter is especially the case when a minor engages in a consensual sexual act with another individual, and there isn’t a big difference between their ages (close in age exception). But if the age gap between the two parties is substantial and the victim is aged 16 years or less, consent cannot be used as a defence (Section 150.1 (1)).
If you believe you have been falsely accused of a sexual offence against a child, immediately request legal assistance from experienced sexual assault defence lawyers in Edmonton. Not only do these legal experts have a solid grip on all the possible defences, but they can also devise an infallible strategy to defend you against the charges.
In this blog post, we shall provide a detailed rundown of the acts that specifically comprise sexual assault against a child and have legal repercussions.
Read Also: Pardon For Sexual Assault Charges In Alberta
Besides addressing sexual offences in general, the Criminal Code of Canada also makes specific provisions for sexual violations committed against children. In this regard, the first offence the Code lays forth is sexual interference.
As per Section 151, if an individual indirectly or directly touches another person under the age of 16 for a sexual motive, the former is guilty of sexual interference. This includes touching a body part such as their hands or feet or with an object like a stick, spoon, pen, etc. A charge for sexual interference can lead to imprisonment for a period between 90 days to 14 years.
Invitation To Sexual Touching
According to Section 152, an individual is guilty of invitation to sexual touching if they purposefully invite, incite, or counsel a person under the age of 16 to indirectly or directly touch the former for sexual pursuit. Besides an invitation to touch with body parts, this offence also includes the invitation to touch using objects.
As is the case with sexual interference, a conviction for an invitation to sexual touching could also lead to a minimum jail sentence of 90 days or up to a maximum term of 14 years.
Sexual exploitation is perhaps the most illicit and despised type of assault owing to the relationship between the offender and the victim.
As explained in Section 153 (1), A person is guilty of sexual exploitation if they are in a position of trust or authority toward the child (under the age of 16 ) or the child is in a relationship of dependency with them but still commits any of the above offences. That is, if a person in a position of power, such as a teacher, touches their student in a sexual manner or incites the latter to do the same, they are guilty of exploitation.
In this case, the close age exception does not apply, and there is no consent even if the victim agrees to the activity.
Even in this case, the accused must serve a jail term of anything between 90 days to 14 years, depending on the severity of the conduct.
While the Code specifically regards the above sexual assault against children, other types of sexual assaults, such as aggravated sexual assault, voyeurism, non-consensual distribution of intimate images, and trafficking, also constitute as assault against children when the criteria are met.
This offence is excluded from sexual offences against children and is exclusively addressed in the Code. In this case, the age bracket is extended to 18 years. Instead of sexual assault, this kind of offence is regarded as ‘tending to corrupt morals’ in Canadian law.
In accordance with Section 163.1 (1), child pornography means:
Any visual representation made by mechanical or electronic means in which a person under the age of 18 is depicted as being engaged in explicit sexual activity or where their sexual organs are the main characteristic of the video, film, photograph, etc.
Any written, audio, or video material in which sexual activity with a child is advocated.
Any audio whose dominant characteristic is the representation of sexual activity with a person under the age of 18 years.
Thus it is an offence to possess, make, distribute, sell, export, import, advertise or access child pornography.
Besides these, other offences such as luring a child, genital exposure, bestiality in the presence of a child, child prostitution, and child sex tourism are also punishable by law. Evidently, sexual offences against children are quite vast, and the defence strategy needed against each type is different.
For this reason, it is important to engage with a well-reputed sexual assault defence lawyer to provide a defence against sexual assault charges.
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