In Canada, sexual contact that is unwanted may be considered a criminal offence. While the charges for such interference will vary, depending on the particulars of the case, the charge specifically applies to sexual assault against a minor victim. Reliant on specifics of the case, a charge of sexual interference may lead to a summary conviction or an indictment, and the Crown may impose a mandatory minimum jail sentence for sex crimes involving minors.
Age of Consent
Individuals under 18 years old cannot consent to sex where (a) the other consenting party is in a position of trust, authority or there is a dependency on that person; and (b) there is an activity of exploitation. The legal age of consent in Canada is 16 years old. However, Persons under 16 can have consensual sex with someone close in age: 12-13 years old (two year age difference); 14-15 year olds (five year age difference). These exceptions only apply if the older person is not in a position of authority or trust and there is no exploitation, dependency, or threat of force.
Consent is feeling willing, certain, comfortable, sober, informed and respected. The absence of “no” does not mean “yes.” Consent must actively be confirmed. The person initiating sexual activity needs to take reasonable steps to establish consent. Nonverbal signs of refusal may include crying, pushing away, shaking head no, silence, not being responsive and avoiding eye contact. A mistake about age must be reasonable and based on recognized steps taken.
The maximum punishment for sexual interference is 14 years in jail. In addition, a court may make an order prohibiting an offender from being in contact with people under the age of 16 and an order requiring registration under the Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA).
Speak to our Vancouver Criminal Lawyers
If you have been accused of sexual interference, please contact us at Mickelson & Whysall Law Corporation. We appreciate that this is a scary situation to find yourself in. We also understand that you may be confused about the charges, having considered the sexual activity to be completely consensual. Our lawyers are highly experienced in defending sexual assault charges and can help you achieve a favourable outcome.
For further information or for a free initial consultation, please contact our Vancouver law office.