Sexual interference is an offence that is committed when a person indirectly or directly touches any part of the body of a person younger than 16 years for a sexual purpose.
For the offence of sexual interference to be made out, the sexual touching must be both intentional and done specifically for a sexual purpose. The touching can either be with the accused’s own body, or with an object. If the complainant is over 16 years old but younger than 18, you can be still be charged with sexual exploitation if you had a relationship of trust and authority with the complainant at the time of the assault.
In order for you to be convicted of sexual interference, the Crown Prosecutor will have to prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you touched the complainant for a sexual purpose either with your body or with an object;
- The sexual touching was intentional;
- 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.
It is important to note that even though the touching needs to be done for a sexual purpose, the Crown does NOT need to prove that it was for sexual gratification or that sexual gratification was obtained for you to be found guilty of this offence.
Invitation to Sexual Touching
Invitation to sexual touching is to invite or counsel a person under the age of 16 to touch, directly or indirectly, your body, the complainant’s own body, or the body of another person for a sexual purpose. As with sexual interference, if the complainant was between the age of 16 and 18 and you had a relationship of trust and authority with the complainant, you could still be charged with sexual exploitation.
In order to secure a conviction for invitation to sexual touching, the Crown Prosecutor will need to prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you asked or directed the complainant to touch you, his or herself, or another person;
- That you knew that the person was under the age of 16, or that you were reckless or wilfully blind with respect to his or her real age;
- That you knew that the communication would be received by the complainant as an invitation, incitement, or counselling to engage in the physical conduct of the offence or that there was a risk that the communication would be perceived as such; and
- That the communication was for a sexual purpose.
The Punishment for Sexual Interference and Invitation to Sexual Touching in Canada
If you are convicted of sexual interference or invitation to sexual touching, you will have been found guilty of a hybrid offence. This means that the Crown Prosecutor can elect to prosecute you by way of indictment or by summary conviction. If the Crown elects to proceed by indictment you will automatically face a mandatory minimum of one year in prison and a maximum of 14 years. If you are prosecuted summarily, you will face a minimum sentence of imprisonment of 90 days and a maximum sentence of up to two years less a day. Upon conviction you will likely also face a number of ancillary orders that will be imposed in addition to your sentence. For example, you will be subject to a DNA order and will be required to submit samples of your DNA to the police. Information about your DNA will then be stored in a national database, and will be accessible to police when they are investigating future crimes.
In accordance with the Sexual Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA), you will also be required to become a registered sex offender. As a registered sex offender you will have to submit your information to the police so that they can store it in the Sex Offenders Registry, an online database that allows the police to monitor people that have been convicted of sexual offences. Like the DNA database, the database serves as an investigative tool that the police can use to identify suspects when investigating sexual offences. As a registered sex offender, you will have to report to the police every year and provide them with information about where you live, what you do for a living, and give them information about the vehicles that you drive so that the police can effectively monitor you. Further to this, you will also likely have to contend with restrictions on your liberty that will prevent you from going places where you have a high likelihood of interacting with minors like playgrounds and schools.