Making Sexually Explicit Materials Available to Child (Offence)

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Making Sexually Explicit Materials Available to Child
s. 171.1 of the Crim. Code
Election / Plea
Crown Election Hybrid
summary proceedings must initiate within 6 months of the offence (786(2))
Jurisdiction Prov. Court

Sup. Court w/ Jury (*)
Sup. Court w/ Judge-alone (*)

* Must be indictable. Preliminary inquiry also available.
Types of Release Release by Officer, Officer-in-charge, or Judge
Summary Dispositions
Avail. Disp. Discharge (730)

Suspended Sentence (731(1)(a))
Fine (734)
Fine + Probation (731(1)(b))
Jail (718.3, 787)
Jail + Probation (731(1)(b))
Jail + Fine (734)

Conditional Sentence (742.1)
Minimum 90 days incarceration
Maximum 2 years less a day incarceration
Indictable Dispositions
Avail. Disp. same as summary
Minimum 6 months incarceration
Maximum 14 years incarceration
Reference
Offence Elements
Sentence Digests


Overview

Offences relating to making sexually explicit materials available to child are found in Part V of the Criminal Code relating to "Sexual Offences, Public Morals and Disorderly Conduct".

The offence prohibits anyone form making "sexually explicit materials" available to a young person for an illegal purpose regardless of whether it is in person or over an electronic device.[1]

Pleadings

Offence
Section
Offence
Type
Crown Election Defence Election
s. 536(2)
s. 171.1 [making sexually explicit materials available to child] Hybrid Offence(s) Yes Yes, if Crown proceeds by Indictment

Offences under s. 171.1 are hybrid with a Crown election. If prosecuted by indictment, there is a Defence election of Court under s. 536(2).

Release
When charged under s. 171.1, the accused can be given an attendance notice without arrest under s. 496 or a summons. If arrested, he can be released by the arresting officer under s. 497 on a attendance notice or by an officer-in-charge under s. 498 on a promise to appear or recognizance. He can also be released by a justice under s. 515.

There will be a presumption of custody (reverse onus) if the offence, prosecuted by indictment, was committed:

  • while at large under s. 515 [bail release], 679 or 680 [release pending appeal or review of appeal] (s. 515(6)(a)(i));
  • "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association" with a criminal organization (s. 515(6)(a)(ii));
  • where the offence involved a firearm, cross-bow, prohibited weapon restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or explosive substance, while the accused was subject to a prohibition order preventing possession of these items (s. 515(6)(a)(viii)); or
  • where the accused is not "ordinarily a resident in Canada" (s. 515(6)(b)).

Publication Bans
Section s. 171.1 offences permit a judge to order a discretionary publication ban for sexual offences under s. 486.4 that protects "information that could identify the victim or a witness". Where the witness is under the age of 18 or if in relation to a victim, the order is mandatory under s. 486.4(2).

Offence Designations
Offences under s. 171.1 are designated offences eligible for wiretap under s. 183.

Offences under s. 171.1 are designated "serious personal injury" offences under s. 752(a) only if it has a maximum penalty of 10 years incarceration or more and involves "use or attempted use of violence against another person" or "conduct endangering or likely to endanger the life or safety of another person or inflicting or likely to inflict severe psychological damage on another person".

See below in Ancillary Sentencing Orders for details on designations relating to sentencing orders.

Offence Wording

Making sexually explicit material available to child
171.1 (1) Every person commits an offence who transmits, makes available, distributes or sells sexually explicit material to

(a) a person who is, or who the accused believes is, under the age of 18 years, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence with respect to that person under subsection 153(1), section 155, 163.1, 170, 171 or 279.011 or subsection 279.02(2), 279.03(2), 286.1(2), 286.2(2) or 286.3(2);
(b) a person who is, or who the accused believes is, under the age of 16 years, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence under section 151 or 152, subsection 160(3) or 173(2) or section 271, 272, 273 or 280 with respect to that person; or
(c) a person who is, or who the accused believes is, under the age of 14 years, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence under section 281 with respect to that person.

Punishment
(2) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1)

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 14 years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months; or
(b) is guilty of 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 90 days.

...
2012, c. 1, s. 21; 2014, c. 25, s. 8; 2015, c. 23, s. 10.


CCC

Proof of the Offence

Proving making sexually explicit materials available to a child under s. 171.1 should include:

  1. identity of accused as culprit
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. the culprit "transmits, makes available, distributes or sells" materials
  5. the materials are "sexually explicit"
  6. the culprit believes the recipient is under 18
  7. the prohibited act intends to groom or reduce the sexual inhibitions of the target (i.e. "facilitate")
  8. the purpose of reducing inhibitions was to commit an enumerated offence:
    1. under s. 171.1(1)(a), relating to a person under 18 years:
      1. sexual exploitation (153(1));
      2. incest (155);
      3. child pornography (163.1);
      4. parent or guardian procuring sexual activity (170);
      5. householder permitting sexual activity (171);
      6. trafficking of a person under the age of eighteen years (279.011);
      7. material benefit — trafficking of person under 18 years (279.02(2));
      8. withholding or destroying documents — trafficking of person under 18 years (279.03(2));
      9. Obtaining sexual services for consideration from person under 18 years (286.1(2));
      10. Material benefit from sexual services provided by person under 18 years (286.2(2));
      11. Procuring — person under 18 years (286.3(2));
    2. under s. 171.1(1)((b), relating to person under 16 years:
      1. sexual interference (151);
      2. invitation to sexual touching (152);
      3. Bestiality in presence of or by child (160(3));
      4. Exposure (173(2));
      5. sexual assault (271);
      6. sexual assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (272);
      7. aggravated assault (273); or
      8. Abduction of person under sixteen (280);
    3. under s. 171.1(1)(c), relating to person under 14 years:
      1. Abduction of person under fourteen (281).

Interpretation of the Offence

This offence amounts to a form of grooming of a child similar to conduct that makes up the offence of child luring.

Presumptions

171.1
...
Presumption
(3) Evidence that the person referred to in paragraph (1)(a), (b) or (c) was represented to the accused as being under the age of 18, 16 or 14 years, as the case may be, is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the accused believed that the person was under that age.
...

2012, c. 1, s. 21.


CCC

Defences

171.1
...
No defence
(4) It is not a defence to a charge under paragraph (1)(a), (b) or (c) that the accused believed that the person referred to in that paragraph was at least 18, 16 or 14 years of age, as the case may be, unless the accused took reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the person.
...
2012, c. 1, s. 21.


CCC


"Intimidate Iamges"

171.1
...
Definition of “sexually explicit material”
(5) In subsection (1), “sexually explicit material” means material that is not child pornography, as defined in subsection 163.1(1), and that is

(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 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 person’s genital organs or anal region or, if the person is female, her breasts;
(b) written material whose dominant characteristic is the description, for a sexual purpose, of explicit sexual activity with a person; or
(c) an audio recording whose dominant characteristic is the description, presentation or representation, for a sexual purpose, of explicit sexual activity with a person.

2012, c. 1, s. 21.


CCC

Participation of Third Parties

See also: Role of the Victim and Third Parties and Testimonial Aids for Young, Disabled or Vulnerable Witnesses

Testimonial Aids
Certain persons who testify are entitled to make application for the use of testimonial aids: Exclusion of Public (s. 486), Use of a Testimonial Screen (s. 486), Access to Support Person While Testifying (s. 486.1), Close Proximity Video-link Testimony (s. 486.2), Self-Represented Cross-Examination Prohibition Order (s. 486.3), and Witness Security Order (s. 486.7).

A witness, victim or complainant may also request publication bans (s. 486.4, 486.5) and/or a Witness Identity Non-disclosure Order (s. 486.31). See also, Publication Bans, above.

On Finding of Guilt

For serious personal injury offences or murder, s. 606(4.1) requires that after accepting a guilty plea, the judge must inquire whether "any of the victims had advised the prosecutor of their desire to be informed if such an agreement were entered into, and, if so, whether reasonable steps were taken to inform that victim of the agreement". Failing to take reasonable steps at guilty plea requires the prosecutor to "as soon as feasible, take reasonable steps to inform the victim of the agreement and the acceptance of the plea" (s. 606(4.3)).

Under s. 738, a judge must inquire from the Crown before sentencing whether "reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victims with an opportunity to indicate whether they are seeking restitution for their losses and damages".

Under s. 722(2), the judge must inquire "[a]s soon as feasible" before sentencing with the Crown "if reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victim with an opportunity to prepare" a victim impact statement. This will include any person "who has suffered, or is alleged to have suffered, physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss" as a result of the offence. Individuals representing a community impacted by the crime may file a statement under s. 722.2.

Sentencing Principles and Ranges

See also: Purpose and Principles of Sentencing, Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offender, and Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offence
For general principles on sentence for sexual offences, see Sexual Offences

Maximum Penalties

Offence(s) Crown
Election
Maximum Penalty
s. 171.1 [making sexually explicit materials available to child] Summary Election 6 months custody
s. 171.1 [making sexually explicit materials available to child] Indictable Election 2 years custody

Offences under s. 171.1 are hybrid. If prosecuted by indictment, the maximum penalty is 2 years incarceration. If prosecuted by summary conviction, the maximum penalty is 6 months incarceration.

Minimum Penalties

Offence(s) Crown
Election
Minimum Penalty
First Offence
Minimum Penalty
Subsequent Offence
s. 171.1 [making sexually explicit materials available to child] Summary Election 30 days custody Same
s. 171.1 [making sexually explicit materials available to child] Indictable Election 90 days custody Same

Offences under s. 171.1 have a mandatory minimum penalty of 90 days jail when prosecuted by indictment and 30 days jail when prosecuted by summary conviction.

Available Dispositions

Offence(s) Crown
Election
Discharge
s. 730
Suspended
Sentence

s. 731(1)(a)
Stand-alone
Fine

s. 731(1)(b)
Custody
s. 718.3, 787
Custody and
Probation
s. 731(1)(b)
Custody and
Fine
s. 734
Conditional
Sentence
(CSO)
s. 742.1
s. 171.1 any X Mark Symbol.png X Mark Symbol.png X Mark Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png X Mark Symbol.png

Offences under s. 171.1 have mandatory minimums. There are no discharges, suspended sentences, stand-alone fines, or conditional sentences available.

Consecutive Sentences
There are no statutory requirements that the sentences be consecutive.

Principles

Young Victim
Section 718.01 requires sentencing judges to "give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence" when conduct "involved the abuse of a person under the age of eighteen years". Where the evidence shows that the offender, "in committing the offence, abused a person under the age of eighteen years, shall be deemed to be an aggravating circumstances" under s. 718.2(a)(ii.1). Where the offender is in a "position of trust or authority" in relation to the victim, it will also be aggravating under s. 718.2(a)(iii).

Ranges

see also: Making Sexually Explicit Materials Available to Child (Sentencing Cases)

Ancillary Sentencing Orders

See also: Ancillary Orders

Offence-specific Orders

Order Conviction Description
DNA Orders s. 171.1
SOIRA Orders s. 171.1(a), (b), or (c)
  • On conviction under s. 171.1(a), (b), or (c), as listed under s. 490.011(a), a SOIRA Order is mandatory as "designated offence" under s. 490.011(1)(a) regardless of Crown election
      • If there is a concurrent or prior conviction for a designated offence, the duration is life (s. 490.012(3))
      • Otherwise, the duration is 10 years as the offence was "prosecuted summarily or if the maximum term of imprisonment for the offence is two or five years".
      • There is an option for early termination under s. 490.015 available after 5 years (if 10 year order) or 20 years (if life order)

Note that by function of s. 490.011(2) of the Code, SOIRA orders are not available when sentencing under the Youth Criminal Justice Act

General Sentencing Orders

Order Conviction Description
Non-communication order while offender in custody (s. 743.21) any The judge has discretion to order that the offender be prohibited "from communicating...with any victim, witness or other person" while in custody except where the judge "considers [it] necessary" to communicate with them.
Restitution Orders (s. 738) any A discretionary Order is available for things such as the replacement value of the property; the pecuniary damages incurred from harm, expenses fleeing a domestic partner; or certain expenses arising from the commission of an offence under s.402.2 or 403.
Victim Fine Surcharge (s. 737) any A mandatory surcharge under s. 737 of 30% of any fine order imposed, $100 per summary conviction or $200 per indictable conviction. If offence occurs on or after October 23, 2013, the order is discretionary based on ability to pay and the minimum amounts are smaller (15%, $50, or $100).

General Forfeiture Orders

Forfeiture Conviction Description
Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime (s. 462.37(1) or (2.01)) any Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence under the Code or the CDSA in which property is "proceeds of crime" and offence was "committed in relation to that property", the property shall be forfeited to Her Majesty the Queen on application of the Crown.
Fine in Lieu of Forfeiture (s. 462.37(3)) any Where a Court is satisfied an order for the forfeiture of proceeds of crime under s. 462.37(!) or (2.01) can be made, but that property cannot be "made subject to an order", then the Court "may" order a fine in "an amount equal to the value of the property". Failure to pay the fine will result in a default judgement imposing a period of incarceration.
Forfeiture of Weapons or Firearms (s. 491) any Where there is finding of guilt for an offence where a "weapon, an imitation firearm, a prohibited device, any ammunition, any prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance was used in the commission of [the] offence and that thing has been seized and detained", or "that a person has committed an offence that involves, or the subject-matter of which is, a firearm, a cross-bow, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance has been seized and detained, that the item be an enumerated weapon or related item be connected to the offence", then there will be a mandatory forfeiture order. However, under s. 491(2), if the lawful owner "was not a party to the offence" and the judge has "no reasonable grounds to believe that the thing would or might be used in the commission of an offence", then it should be returned to the lawful owner.
Forfeiture of Offence-related Property (s. 490.1) any Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence, "any property is offence-related property" where (a) by means or in respect of which an indictable offence under this Act or the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act is committed, (b) that is used in any manner in connection with the commission of such an offence, or (c) that is intended to be used for committing such an offence". Such property is to be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of the province.

History

See also: List of Criminal Code Amendments

See Also