History of Child Pornography Offences

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History

See also: List of Criminal Code Amendments and Sentencing Child Pornography

Section 163.1 was enacted in 1993 (S.C. 1993, c. 46, s. 2) to add offences related to child pornography.[1]

  1. R v Katigbak, 2011 SCC 48 (CanLII), [2011] 3 SCR 326

2015 to Present

On July 17, 2015, the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act (Bill C-26) came into force resulting in an increase of the minimum and maximum penalties. For making child pornography under s. 163.1(2) and distributing under s. 163.1(3), the maximum penalty by indictment increased from 10 years to 14 years. The offences were made to be straight indictable. For possession under s. 163.1(4) and accessing under s. 163.1(4.1) the minimum for summary conviction increased from 90 days to 6 months and for indictable offences increased from 6 months to 1 year. The maximum for summary conviction increased from 18 months to 2 years less a day and for indictable offences increased from 5 years to 10 years.

Definition of child pornography
163.1 (1) In this section, child pornography means

(a) a photographic, film, video or other visual representation, whether or not it was made by electronic or mechanical means,
(i) that shows a person who is or is depicted as being under the age of eighteen years and is engaged in or is depicted as engaged in explicit sexual activity, or
(ii) the dominant characteristic of which is the depiction, for a sexual purpose, of a sexual organ or the anal region of a person under the age of eighteen years;
(b) any written material, visual representation or audio recording that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act;
(c) any written material whose dominant characteristic is the description, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act; or
(d) any audio recording that has as its dominant characteristic the description, presentation or representation, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act.

Making child pornography
(2) Every person who makes, prints, publishes or possesses for the purpose of publication any child pornography is guilty of an indictable offence and 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.
Distribution, etc. of child pornography
(3) Every person who transmits, makes available, distributes, sells, advertises, imports, exports or possesses for the purpose of transmission, making available, distribution, sale, advertising or exportation any child pornography is guilty of an indictable offence and 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.
Possession of child pornography
(4) Every person who possesses any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or
(b) 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 six months.

Accessing child pornography
(4.1) Every person who accesses any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or
(b) 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 six months.

Interpretation
(4.2) For the purposes of subsection (4.1), a person accesses child pornography who knowingly causes child pornography to be viewed by, or transmitted to, himself or herself.
Aggravating factor
(4.3) If a person is convicted of an offence under this section, the court that imposes the sentence shall consider as an aggravating factor the fact that the person committed the offence with intent to make a profit.
Defence
(5) It is not a defence to a charge under subsection (2) in respect of a visual representation that the accused believed that a person shown in the representation that is alleged to constitute child pornography was or was depicted as being eighteen years of age or more unless the accused took all reasonable steps to ascertain the age of that person and took all reasonable steps to ensure that, where the person was eighteen years of age or more, the representation did not depict that person as being under the age of eighteen years.
Defence
(6) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section if the act that is alleged to constitute the offence

(a) has a legitimate purpose related to the administration of justice or to science, medicine, education or art; and
(b) does not pose an undue risk of harm to persons under the age of eighteen years.

Question of law
(7) For greater certainty, for the purposes of this section, it is a question of law whether any written material, visual representation or audio recording advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act.
1993, c. 46, s. 2; 2002, c. 13, s. 5; 2005, c. 32, s. 7; 2012, c. 1, s. 17; 2015, c. 23, s. 7.


2012 to 2015

On August 9, 2012, s. 163.1 was amended to increase the penalties as follows:

  • Making: Summary 90 days increased to 6 months
  • Distribution: Summary 90 days increased to 6 months
  • Possession: Indictable 45 days increased to 6 months / Summary 14 days increased to 90 days
  • Accessing: Indictable 45 days increased to 6 months / Summary 14 days increased to 90 days
  • Possession: Maximum 18 months increased to 2 years less a day
  • Accessing: Maximum 18 months increased to 2 years less a day

Starting August 9, 2012, s. 163.1 read:

Definition of “child pornography”
163.1 (1) In this section, “child pornography” means

(a) a photographic, film, video or other visual representation, whether or not it was made by electronic or mechanical means,
(i) that shows a person who is or is depicted as being under the age of eighteen years and is engaged in or is depicted as engaged in explicit sexual activity, or
(ii) the dominant characteristic of which is the depiction, for a sexual purpose, of a sexual organ or the anal region of a person under the age of eighteen years;
(b) any written material, visual representation or audio recording that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act;
(c) any written material whose dominant characteristic is the description, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act; or
(d) any audio recording that has as its dominant characteristic the description, presentation or representation, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act.

Making child pornography
(2) Every person who makes, prints, publishes or possesses for the purpose of publication any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years less a day and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months.

Distribution, etc. of child pornography
(3) Every person who transmits, makes available, distributes, sells, advertises, imports, exports or possesses for the purpose of transmission, making available, distribution, sale, advertising or exportation any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years less a day and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months.

Possession of child pornography
(4) Every person who possesses any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable to imprisonment for a term <u.of not more than 18</u> months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of 90 days.

Accessing child pornography
(4.1) Every person who accesses any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 18 months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of 90 days.

Interpretation
(4.2) For the purposes of subsection (4.1), a person accesses child pornography who knowingly causes child pornography to be viewed by, or transmitted to, himself or herself.
Aggravating factor
(4.3) If a person is convicted of an offence under this section, the court that imposes the sentence shall consider as an aggravating factor the fact that the person committed the offence with intent to make a profit.
Defence
(5) It is not a defence to a charge under subsection (2) in respect of a visual representation that the accused believed that a person shown in the representation that is alleged to constitute child pornography was or was depicted as being eighteen years of age or more unless the accused took all reasonable steps to ascertain the age of that person and took all reasonable steps to ensure that, where the person was eighteen years of age or more, the representation did not depict that person as being under the age of eighteen years.
Defence
(6) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section if the act that is alleged to constitute the offence

(a) has a legitimate purpose related to the administration of justice or to science, medicine, education or art; and
(b) does not pose an undue risk of harm to persons under the age of eighteen years.

Question of law
(7) For greater certainty, for the purposes of this section, it is a question of law whether any written material, visual representation or audio recording advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act.
1993, c. 46, s. 2; 2002, c. 13, s. 5; 2005, c. 32, s. 7; 2012, c. 1, s. 17.


CCC

The changes from 2012 are underlined.

2005 to 2012

On November 1, 2005, Bill C-2 amended s.163.1 to include mandatory minimum penalties and change the definition of child pornography for written and audio materials.[1]

It also amended s. 163.1(6), in response to the decision of R v Sharpe by removing the common law public good defence and add the a defence on the basis that the acts "(1) had a legitimate purpose related to the administration of justice or to science, medicine, education or art; and (2) did not pose undue risk of harm to persons under the age of eighteen."On the same date mandatory minimums were added to the offences.

Starting November 1, 2005, s. 163.1 read:

Definition of “child pornography”
163.1 (1) In this section, “child pornography” means (a) a photographic, film, video or other visual representation, whether or not it was made by electronic or mechanical means,

(i) that shows a person who is or is depicted as being under the age of eighteen years and is engaged in or is depicted as engaged in explicit sexual activity, or
(ii) the dominant characteristic of which is the depiction, for a sexual purpose, of a sexual organ or the anal region of a person under the age of eighteen years;
(b) any written material, visual representation or audio recording that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act;
(c) any written material whose dominant characteristic is the description, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act; or
(d) any audio recording that has as its dominant characteristic the description, presentation or representation, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act.

Making child pornography
(2) Every person who makes, prints, publishes or possesses for the purpose of publication any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of ninety days.

Distribution, etc. of child pornography
(3) Every person who transmits, makes available, distributes, sells, advertises, imports, exports or possesses for the purpose of transmission, making available, distribution, sale, advertising or exportation any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of ninety days.

Possession of child pornography
(4) Every person who possesses any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of forty-five days; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of fourteen days.

Accessing child pornography
(4.1) Every person who accesses any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of forty-five days; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of fourteen days.

Interpretation
(4.2) For the purposes of subsection (4.1), a person accesses child pornography who knowingly causes child pornography to be viewed by, or transmitted to, himself or herself.
Aggravating factor
(4.3) If a person is convicted of an offence under this section, the court that imposes the sentence shall consider as an aggravating factor the fact that the person committed the offence with intent to make a profit.
Defence
(5) It is not a defence to a charge under subsection (2) in respect of a visual representation that the accused believed that a person shown in the representation that is alleged to constitute child pornography was or was depicted as being eighteen years of age or more unless the accused took all reasonable steps to ascertain the age of that person and took all reasonable steps to ensure that, where the person was eighteen years of age or more, the representation did not depict that person as being under the age of eighteen years.
Defence
(6) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section if the act that is alleged to constitute the offence

(a) has a legitimate purpose related to the administration of justice or to science, medicine, education or art; and
(b) does not pose an undue risk of harm to persons under the age of eighteen years.

Question of law
(7) For greater certainty, for the purposes of this section, it is a question of law whether any written material, visual representation or audio recording advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act.
1993, c. 46, s. 2; 2002, c. 13, s. 5; 2005, c. 32, s. 7.


CCC

The changes from 2005 are underlined.

2002 to 2005

On July 23, 2002, the offence of accessing child pornography was added as well as the forfeiture provisions.

Definition of “child pornography”
163.1 (1) In this section, “child pornography” means

(a) a photographic, film, video or other visual representation, whether or not it was made by electronic or mechanical means,
(i) that shows a person who is or is depicted as being under the age of eighteen years and is engaged in or is depicted as engaged in explicit sexual activity, or
(ii) the dominant characteristic of which is the depiction, for a sexual purpose, of a sexual organ or the anal region of a person under the age of eighteen years; or
(b) any written material or visual representation that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act.

Making child pornography
(2) Every person who makes, prints, publishes or possesses for the purpose of publication any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Distribution, etc. of child pornography
(3) Every person who transmits, makes available, distributes, sells, imports, exports or possesses for the purpose of transmission, making available, distribution, sale or exportation any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Possession of child pornography
(4) Every person who possesses any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Accessing child pornography
(4.1) Every person who accesses any child pornography is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Interpretation
(4.2) For the purposes of subsection (4.1), a person accesses child pornography who knowingly causes child pornography to be viewed by, or transmitted to, himself or herself.
Defence
(5) It is not a defence to a charge under subsection (2) in respect of a visual representation that the accused believed that a person shown in the representation that is alleged to constitute child pornography was or was depicted as being eighteen years of age or more unless the accused took all reasonable steps to ascertain the age of that person and took all reasonable steps to ensure that, where the person was eighteen years of age or more, the representation did not depict that person as being under the age of eighteen years.
Defences
(6) Where the accused is charged with an offence under subsection (2), (3), (4) or (4.1), the court shall find the accused not guilty if the representation or written material that is alleged to constitute child pornography has artistic merit or an educational, scientific or medical purpose.
Other provisions to apply
(7) Subsections 163(3) to (5) apply, with such modifications as the circumstances require, with respect to an offence under subsection (2), (3), (4) or (4.1).
1993, c. 46, s. 2; 2002, c. 13, s. 5.


CCC

  1. See Legislative History of Bill C-2