Nov 29

Is Sexual Interference a Criminal Offence?

Sexual interference is outlined in section 151 of the Criminal Code. Sexual interference is a sexual assault involving someone under the age of consent (i.e. under the age of 16, in most cases).

Will I go to Jail for Sexual Interference?

If convicted of this offence, you could be sentenced to jail. Sexual interference is a hybrid offence that comes with a mandatory minimum sentence. If the Crown elects to proceed by indictment, you will face a higher mandatory minimum sentence than you would if the Crown proceeded 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 courts need to start sentencing people convicted of sex crimes against children to longer sentences. The Court believed that the sentencing tariff for sex crimes with children was too low. Following this case, the sentencing case law shows a drastic increase in sentences for sexual interference convictions.

What Does Sexual Interference Mean?

The Crown will need to call evidence to prove the following elements of the offence:

  • You touched the complainant for a sexual purpose either with your body or with an object; and
  • That you knew the complainant was under the age of 16, or that you did not take reasonable steps to ascertain the complainant’s age.

Due to the age of the complainant, consent is not an element of the offence since the complainant is unable to consent. Even if there was evidence that the complainant consented, it would not be relevant to a sexual interference charge.

How do I Beat my Sexual Interference Charge?

There are a few potential defences to a charge of sexual interference: 1) there was no touching, 2) although there was touching, it was not of a sexual nature, and 3) you honestly believed he or she was older. The first two are self-explanatory, but mistaken belief in age is more difficult.

If you honestly believed that the complainant was 16 years of age or older at the time the sexual activity occurred, you may have a defence to a sexual interference charge. The Criminal Code requires that you take “all reasonable steps” to ascertain the complainant’s age before you can raise a defence of mistaken belief in age. You must point to some evidence that you honestly believed the complainant was 16 years or older and that you took reasonable steps to ascertain the complainant’s age. What constitutes as taking “reasonable steps” is fairly contextual and fact-specific.

Toronto Sexual Interference Lawyers

Sexual interference 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 a finding of guilt.

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