Defending Against Charges of Sexual Interference

March 23, 2022

A Sexual Interference charges involves indirect or direct touching for sexual purposes of a person under the age of consent. In Canada, the criminal code established that the age of consent is generally 16 years of age, though it can be up to 18 if the other person involved is in a position of trust or authority over the person.

We’ll discuss the legal definition of the charge of sexual interference in the criminal code and discuss the penalties involved if you are convicted. We’ll also look into the strategies a criminal lawyer can use in your defence of charges of sexual interference.

What is Sexual Interference?

According to Section 151 of the Canadian Criminal Code, sexual interference charge is defined as:

(151) Every person who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years

  • (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 14 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or
  • (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years less a day and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of 90 days.

Sexual Interference vs. Sexual Assault

Charges of sexual interference and sexual assault are similar but different charges. Essentially sexual interference is more specific and must involve the accused touching victims under the age of 16 years for an intended sexual purpose, of is the accused is in a position of trust the victims are under the age of 18 years. With sexual assault, the touching only needs to be sexual in nature. 

Minimum and Maximum Sentences

If you are convicted of the offence of sexual interference are both minimum and maximum penalties. With a conviction under this section of the Criminal Code of Canada there will be a mandatory jail sentence. The dispositions of either an Absolute or Conditional Discharge are not available, either Suspended Sentences or Conditional Sentence Orders.

If you are convicted by way of a summary conviction, the criminal code sets out that the minimum imprisonment sentence of 90 days, with a maximum jail sentence of 2 years less one day. If the Crown proceeds by way of indictment, the minimum jail sentence is 1-year, and the maximum sentence for the charge of sexual interference is 14 years in prison. 

Registering As A Sex Offender

Along with a prison sentence, if you are convicted of sexual interference, you will also be registered in the federal National Sex Offender Registry or NSOR in the province where you live. The police will have access to your name, address and the crime you have been found guilty of. You must report any chance of your address to the registry and keep your information up to date or face criminal charges. 

I’m Being Added to the National Sex Offender Registry. Now What?

Prohibition Orders

A judge may also put you under a prohibition order to prevent you from being in contact with individuals under 16. A prohibition order could also include other restrictions such as preventing you from being in parks or around anyone under the age of 16 and any employment that involves individuals under the age of 16. These prohibition orders are at the discretion of the judge and could last a few months, a year, or for the rest of your life. 

Sexual Interference Charges

Charged with sexual interference.

How Criminal Defence Lawyers Against Allegations of Sexual Assault

To prove that sexual interference occurred, the Crown prosecutor must prove that the touching was intentional and for a sexual purpose and that the accused knew the person was below the age of consent or did not take reasonable steps to determine their age. The crown can use evidence such as the body part touched or words or gestures that took place with the touching. 

Your criminal defence lawyer will defend your case by doing a thorough investigation and looking into the background of the alleged victim and any relevant details, such as the nature of your relationship and any history between you. 

Common defences of sexual interference charges raised by criminal defence lawyers include:

  • Mistake of age – Your lawyer may show that it was reasonable to assume before the sexual activity that the complainant was over the age of consent if, for example, you met them at a business conference instead of a high school party. The accused must have taken “all reasonable steps” to ascertain the age of the victim. This same defence applies to charge of invitation to sexual touching.
  • Unintentional touching – you can prove that the touching was not intentional, for example, on a crowded bus and that it was not for sexual gratification or a sexual activity.
  • Touching for a non-sexual purpose – You can prove the touching was for a non-sexual purpose, such as medical treatment or other health-related reasons.

In many cases, it comes down to the specific circumstances of each case. Criminal lawyers experienced in defending charges of sexual interference and other sexual offences can help determine the best method of defence. 

If you or a family member has been charged with sexual interference, you need an experienced criminal lawyer to defend your case and help you avoid costly penalties. William Jaksa has over ten years of experience as a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto. Talk to him today for a consultation on your case. If you are in custody you can reach counsel on his toll-free number: 1-844-LAW-WILL.

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