Affordable Ottawa Sexual Interference Lawyers

Sexual Interference Charges in Ottawa, OntarioSex crimes are high profile in Canada and we often hear terms such as “rape” or “sexual assault” used in connection with such offences.

However, there is a multitude of other charges related to illegal sexual activity. Sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching are examples that most people are less familiar with.

If you are charged with sexual interference or invitation to sexual touching, it is important to first understand what these charges mean and what the potential consequences are.

Then you need to defend the charge as best you can as a guilty verdict can have a major impact upon your future rights and freedoms, as well as your reputation.

The experienced sex crime lawyers at Affordable Defence will vigorously defend you if you are wrongly charged with sexual interference or invitation to sexual touching in Ottawa.

What is sexual interference?

Sexual interference is an offence committed against a person under the age of consent, which is 16 in Canada.

It is the touching (directly or indirectly) of any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 for a sexual purpose, as detailed in Section 151 of the Criminal Code.

To secure a conviction in a criminal court, the prosecution will need to prove beyond a reasonable that:

  • Direct or indirect sexual touching occurred
  • The touching was intentional
  • It was done for a sexual purpose (regardless of whether sexual gratification was received)
  • The defendant knew the complainant was under 16 years of age or did not take reasonable steps to confirm the age

Touching “directly” usually means with the defendant’s own body while “indirectly” normally means with an object.

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Sexual Interference and Invitation to Sexual Touching

What is invitation to sexual touching?

Invitation to sexual touching is outlined in Section 152 of the Criminal Code.

This crime involves inviting, counselling or inciting a person under the age of 16 to touch the body of any person (including the victim’s) for a sexual purpose.

To secure a conviction in a criminal court, the prosecution will need to prove beyond a reasonable that:

  • The complainant was asked or directed to touch his or herself or another person
  • The communication was for a sexual purpose (according to the body part invited to be touched or words/gestures used during the communication)
  • The defendant knew the complainant was under 16 years of age or did not take reasonable steps to confirm the complainant’s age
  • The defendant was aware that the communication may be received by the complainant as an invitation, incitement, or counselling to engage in the offence

With the crimes of sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching, a person can still be charged with a sex crime if the alleged victim is over the age of 16 but under 18 AND the defendant held a position of trust and authority over them.

Can a “consent defence” be used in Ottawa?

A person under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to sexual activity in Canada.

Even if the defendant is adamant that he or she believed that the complainant was above the age of consent, this is generally no defence either. However, there are exceptions to the rule.

If the defendant can prove that all reasonable steps were taken to ascertain the age of the complainant before the sexual interference or invitation to sexual touching took place AND, because of these steps, he or she believed the complainant to be aged 16 or over, it may be a valid defence.

In cases where the complainant is 12 or 13 years of age, consent is only a valid defence if the defendant is:

  • Less than two years older than the complainant, and
  • Not in a position of trust or authority toward the complainant, and
  • Not in a relationship of dependency, and
  • Not in an exploitative relationship with the complainant.

If the complainant is 14 or 15 years of age, consent is only a valid defence if the defendant is:

  • Less than five years older than the complainant, and
  • Not in a position of trust or authority toward the complainant, and
  • Not in a relationship of dependency, and
  • Not in an exploitative relationship with the complainant.

Where the defendant is more than five years older than a 14- or 15-year-old complainant, consent is a valid defence if the defendant is:

  • The common-law partner or married partner of the complainant, and
  • Not in a position of trust or a relationship of dependency over the complainant.

A “position of trust” is like a teacher or the coach of a sports team. A “relationship of dependency” is a parent, grandparent, guardian, or any other type of relationship where the complainant should be able to trust and rely on the protection of the defendant.

What are the associated punishments with sexual interference?

Like all sex crimes in Ottawa, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching are treated harshly by the justice system.

They are hybrid offences, meaning that they may be prosecuted as summary or indictable offences according to the Criminal Code. Either way, minimum prison sentences apply for a conviction.

The minimum prison sentences are as follows:

  • 90 days (summary conviction)
  • One year (indictment)

The maximum prison sentences are as follows:

  • Two years less a day (summary conviction)
  • 14 years (indictment)

If you are found guilty of either offense, you may also be the subject of a prohibition order from the court, preventing you from contact with people under the age of 16 for a certain period (or even for the rest of your life).

The restrictions attached to a prohibition order can be particularly onerous, preventing you from:

  • Visiting public parks where people under the age of 16 would be expected to be
  • Being employed in a job that involves working with young people
  • Having your Internet use restricted or monitored

Additionally, your name, contact details, pictures and the details of your offence will appear both on the federal National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) and the local registry in Ontario. The police have access to these registries but not the general public.

There are several requirements of offenders listed on these registries, such as reporting changes of address, name, or other relevant information. Failure to comply can lead to further fines or prison time.

What can you do if you‘ve been charged with a sex crime?

Wrongful accusations of sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching can ruin lives. You deserve the best possible defence if you have been wrongly accused of any sex crime.

Contact an experienced criminal lawyer at Affordable Defence in Ottawa for a free case evaluation.

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