Nov 29

Is Sexual Exploitation a Criminal Offence?

Yes. Sexual exploitation is a criminal offence pursuant to the Criminal Code. Section 153 of the Criminal Code makes it an offence to have sex with someone if they are between the ages of 16 to 17, if you are in a position of trust or authority to the complainant.

For Sexual Exploitation, do I need to Exploit the Person?

No. Section 153 of the Criminal Code does not require the trier of fact to make a finding that the accused person was exploitative. All that the crown is required to prove is that the accused person was in a position of trust or authority. For example, the Court could find that a doctor was exploitative in refusing to provide their patient with the necessary prescription until they engaged in sexual activity with them. The doctor was not necessarily exploitative, but they were in a position of trust or authority in relation to their patient.

Will I go to Jail for Sexual Interference?

Sexual exploitation is a hybrid offence. Sexual interference has a mandatory minimum sentence. If the Crown elects to proceed by indictment, you will face a higher mandatory minimum sentence than if the Crown elected to proceed summarily.  If convicted, your sentence may also include a DNA sample, a section 161 order, and registry on the SOIRA.

The Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Friesen said that Court needs to start sentencing individuals convicted of sex crimes against children to longer sentences. The Court believed the sentencing tariff for sex crimes with children was too low. Since this decision, the sentences for all sexual offences involving children have increased substantially.

What is a Position of Authority? What is a Position of Trust?

A position of authority involves power and control, which a position of trust does not necessarily involve. A position of trust is founded on safety, confidence, and reliability. It is expected that the special nature of the relationship will not be breached.

The Ontario Court of Appeal has taken a contextual approach to assessing the status of a relationship. The court outlined the factors that a court must consider when determining whether a relationship of trust, dependency or authority existed and whether it was exploitative.

The considerations that bear on whether a relationship comes within section 153 flow from the obvious purpose of this section: to protect a young person who is vulnerable to an adult because of the imbalance in their relationship. With this purpose in mind, the courts have identified several considerations relevant to an assessment of whether a relationship of trust exists. They include:

  • The age difference between the accused and the young person;
  • The evolution of their relationship;
  • The status of the accused in relation to the young person;
  • The degree of control, influence or persuasiveness exercised by the accused over the young person; and
  • The expectations of the parties affected, including the accused, the young person and the young person’s parents.

Toronto Sexual Exploitation Lawyers

Sexual exploitation trials can be complex and challenging to navigate. The evidentiary issues are complicated and difficult to understand. Hiring counsel of choice is the first step towards fighting these serious allegations, and a lawyer who is trained in this area will be the difference between an acquittal and finding of guilt.

The lawyers at Lockyer Zaduk Zeeh are experienced Toronto sexual exploitation lawyers, Brampton sexual exploitation lawyers, Newmarket sexual exploitation lawyers, and Oshawa sexual exploitation lawyers. Please contact us at 416-613-0416 or at to schedule a consultation.