In a recent case in the Onatrio Superior Court of Justice, the mandatory minimum one year jail sentence for Sexual Exploitation was found to be unconstitutional. This decision is part of what is now a long line of cases where mandatory minimum senteces for sexual offences have been struck down. In the decision of R. v. Cristoferi-Paolucci, Justice McWatt looks to two hypothetical situation where the mandatory minimum would be grossly disproportionate:
Although the age of consent in Canada is 16, in some cases you can still be convicted of an offence for engaging in sexual activity with someone over the age of 16 but under the age of 18. If you are in a position of trust or authority towards a young person, or the young person is in a relationship of dependency with you, or exploitative of the young person, you could be convicted of the offence of sexual exploitation.
If you have been charged with a sexual offence, the consequences of a conviction can be serious. In all but the most minor of offences, some form of jail sentence is likely to be imposed. The length of the sentence can vary. In cases of date rape, the sentence is likely to be between two and five years. In cases of ongoing abuse of children, particularly if there are more than one victim, the sentence can be much higher than five years.
For certain sexual offences against young people, such as sexual interference, it is a defence in some circumstances to be mistaken about their age. In order for this defence to be valid, an accused person must take all reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the complainant. So, what does "all reasonable steps" actually mean? The Supreme Court of Canada provided some guidance in the recent case of R. v. George.
The age of consent for sexual activity in Canada is set out in the Criminal Code. As a general rule, a person cannor consent to sexual activity until they are 16 years old. As a result, if you have sexual relations with someone who is not yet 16 years old it is no defence that he or she consented to the activity. However, there are exceptions.
The Court of Appeal of Ontario recently released a judgment in an extradition case involving a deportation order to the United States against a man alleged to have committed charges of internet luring, child exploitation and child pornography.
A person charged with possessing or making child pornography can raise what is known as a "private use exception" as a defence. The limits of this defence were recently considered by the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R. v. Barabash.