Facing possible charges of child luring in Ontario is a very serious matter. If convicted, you could face years in jail. There is also a severe stigma surrounding crimes involving children. A conviction can permanently damage your reputation. That is why it is absolutely imperative to act quickly. Call a qualified North York criminal defence lawyer as soon as you can. A lawyer with specific knowledge of Ontario’s child luring laws can help explain your rights. They can then start building a strong defence strategy right away.
Contact a Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Before you do anything else, talk to an experienced defence lawyer. Any interaction you have could affect your case. This includes conversations you have with law enforcement, the accuser, or their parents. You don’t want to be caught off-guard, accidentally saying something that could sabotage your chances at acquittal.
A skilled North York criminal defence lawyer can guide you through the legal process. The team at Kruse Law Firm can advise you on how best to proceed, speaking on your behalf as needed. You may or may not know exactly why you’re being charged with child luring in the first place. Perhaps it was a misunderstanding. Even so, the Crown will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.
To have your best chance at a fair trial, it is prudent to have a legal team on your side that you can trust. With years of knowledge and experience, Kruse Law Firm is here to help you.
Child Luring Laws in Canada’s Criminal Code
Child luring is part of Canada’s Criminal Code describing sexual offences, public morals, and disorderly conduct. The exact child luring laws are covered under section 172.1 of the Criminal Code. In simple terms, the laws do not forbid someone from communicating with a minor online. It is illegal, though, to use internet communication with the intention of committing one of the listed sexual offences.
Criminal Code Section 172.1 further distinguishes between child luring for three age groups: under 18, under 16, and under 14 years old.
- Section 172.1(1)(a) describes online communication with someone who the accused believes is under 18 years of age. This is for the purpose of such acts as incest, child pornography, trafficking, obtaining sexual services, and procuring a person under the age of 18.
- Section 172.1(1)(b) describes communication with someone under 16 years of age. Acts named in this subsection include sexual interference, an invitation to sexual touching, bestiality in the presence of a child, indecent exposure, sexual assault, and child abduction.
- Section 172.1(1)(c) describes communication with a person under 14 years old. There is just one addition beyond the above two subsections. This is communicating for the purpose of abducting a person under 14 years of age.
In all cases, the law states that the accused did not take reasonable steps to confirm the other person is over a certain age. Canada’s age of consent laws are complex. It is advisable to seek the counsel of a North York criminal defence lawyer who can explain them to you.
On the Presumption of Age
If the accused had reason to believe the victim was under a certain age, then child luring laws are a bit clearer. It can get a bit trickier when the age of the victim wasn’t obvious to the person accused of child luring. Simply assuming that someone is at least 18 years old is not enough.
The law states that “the absence of evidence to the contrary… is proof that the accused believed the person was under that age.” Rather, mistake of age laws say the accused must have taken “reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the person.” What those “reasonable steps” look like could be open to interpretation.
Examples of Child Luring
Child luring can take on many forms. Some common examples include:
- Asking a minor to send sexual pictures
- Planning to meet a minor in person with sexual intentions
- Creating fake online profiles to befriend a minor
- Sending sexual pictures to a minor
Significant Penalties for Child Luring in Ontario
In Ontario, child luring can be an indictable offence. It can also be a summary conviction. Depending on how the Crown proceeds with sentencing, the possible penalties can vary.
- An indictment has a minimum sentence of one year in prison. The maximum sentence is 14 years.
- A summary conviction has a minimum sentence of six months. The maximum prison sentence is two years, less a day.
The dramatic difference in maximum prison time is one of many reasons why a skilled defence lawyer is so invaluable. If the child luring charge escalates to aggravated sexual assault on someone under 16 years of age, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. Beyond prison sentences, a child luring conviction can have other life-altering consequences.
If convicted, you may be placed on a sex offender registry both in Ontario and nationally. This registration can be for ten years, 20 years, or life. You may be banned from going to parks, pools, and other public spaces. A criminal record can affect employment opportunities. It can also make international travel, even to the United States, more difficult, if not impossible.
A Skilled Defence Lawyer Can Help
Ontario’s child luring laws are complex and confusing. A skilled North York criminal defence lawyer can assess your case and help develop defence strategies. Perhaps it is not obvious that the online conversation had sexual intent. There may be reasonable doubt that the accused wasn’t even the one communicating with the minor. Screenshots of online chats can be faked. There may be some doubt that the accused even sent the messages at all.
The burden of proof falls on the Crown prosecutors. As a defence strategy, reasonable doubt can sometimes be enough to acquit the accused of all charges. Or, it can be shown that the accused took “reasonable steps” to confirm the victim’s age, only to be misled. Even if the accused is found guilty, an experienced lawyer can better negotiate for more lenient penalties.