National Sexual Offender Registry in Canada
Those found guilty of certain sexual offences in Ontario are required by law to register with the local sexual offender registry, which forms part of a national registry.
Since 2004, this requirement has helped to provide Canadian law enforcement agencies with a considerable amount of personal information about certain convicted offenders considered high-risk and dangerous.
The purpose was to reduce the number of repeat sex offences from occurring by creating a registry based on regions around the country.
According to research, in many cases involving sexual offences, the offender and the victim’s initial contact occurs close to the victim’s last location. The database, therefore, was designed to help law enforcement rapidly investigate local crimes and prevent sex offences from occurring.
If required to register, your obligations will not end with a one-off registration process. They continue annually.
So, if you are affected by this, what are your rights and obligations and is there anything you can do to be removed from the registry?
These and other questions are answered here…
What types of offenders are placed on the Sexual Offender Registry?
According to the Sexual Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA), offenders convicted of certain sexual offences are required to register with the Sexual Offender Registry.
Designated offences include the following:
- Sexual assault
- Sexual interference
- Invitation to sexual touching
- Sexual exploitation
- Child pornography (making, possession, distribution)
- Indecent exposure
Can judges apply discretion??
Since April 15, 2011, judges are required to order people convicted of the above offences to register with the Sexual Offender Registry.
Do people with a conditional or absolute discharge need to report?
People who receive a conditional or absolute discharge for one of the designated offences listed above are NOT required to report to the Sexual Offender Registry in Ontario.
However, those found not criminally responsible for a designated sexual offence due to a mental disorder must still register for the designated period.
What information do you need to provide?
If you are placed on the Sexual Offender Registry, you must provide the following personal information to your local police jurisdiction in Ontario:
- Details of the offence you are convicted of
- Date of birth
- Telephone number and address
- Details of height, weight and identifying marks (e.g. tattoos)
- Vehicle information (license plate number, make, model, etc.)
- Employment details and address of employer
- Details of your place of education
When do you need to report to the police – and for how long?
If you are required to register, you will need to report in person with your local police jurisdiction in Ontario within seven days of being convicted or, if given a custodial sentence, within seven days of your release.
Then you must re-register each year between the eleventh and twelfth month after you last reported.
You must also notify the registry within seven days of:
- Changing your address
- Changing your legal name (given name or surname)
- Moving to the province and becoming a resident of Ontario
- Returning to Ontario (if outside of Ontario when required to report)
- Ceasing to reside in Ontario (i.e. seven days before you move away)
If you intend to travel for more than a week, you will also need to provide the location and duration of stay to the police.
These requirements remain in place for 10 years, 20 years or for life, depending on the type of crime that you were convicted of.
How long is information kept on the Registry database?
The information about those placed on the Registry will remain on the database indefinitely, even after an offender’s reporting requirements have ended.
What are the penalties for breaking sex offence registry rules?
Compliance with the sexual offender rules is mandatory and non-compliance even for the first time can lead to harsh penalties:
- For first-time offenders: A fine not more than $25,000; and/or imprisonment of not more than one year (or both)
- Subsequent offences: A fine not more than $25,000; and/or imprisonment not more than two years less a day (or both)
Do the sex offender rules apply to people under 18?
No, the provisions of the Sexual Offender Information Registration Act do not generally apply to people under the age of 18 even if they commit designated sexual offences.
The exception is in the rare case of an under 18-year-old who is tried and sentenced as an adult.
Is the Sexual Offender Registry publicly accessible?
No, the database in Ontario is not publicly accessible, which is one of the reasons (along with the harsh penalties for non-compliance) for the high compliance rate.
All accredited Canadian police agencies can access accurate information about registered sex offenders 24 hours a day.
This increases the perception of public safety and confidence that the police can rapidly investigate any incidents in the community involving those included in the registry.
Can an order to report to the registry be terminated early?
It is possible to apply for early termination of an order to report to the sex offences registry if you receive a pardon for your crime or once a record suspension is granted.
However, mandatory minimum waiting periods apply before this can happen.
Those given 10-year orders must wait at least five years and those given 20-year orders must wait at least 10 years. Lifetime orders are subject to a minimum 20-year waiting period before the order can be terminated.
In what circumstances is early termination considered?
Any judge in Ontario will put the public interest first when it comes to registered sexual offenders.
If it is deemed that public safety is not at risk and the order to report to the sex offences registry imposes unfair restrictions on the privacy or liberty of the offender, this might be grounds for early termination of the order.
Need help defending a sexual offence charge?
The lawyers at Affordable Defence are accustomed to defending people facing serious criminal charges like sexual offences.
Your best chance of avoiding the restrictions and hardships that come with placement on the Sexual Offender Registry is to be acquitted of the crime in the first place.
Contact one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers in Ottawa for a free initial consultation.