Sentencing for Sexual Offences

From Criminal Law Notebook
This page was last substantively updated or reviewed January 2021. (Rev. # 84900)

General Principles

See also: Sexual Offences

Sentencing for sexual offence, whether the victim is under age or not, must emphasize the "wrongfulness and harmfulness" of the offences by taking into account the "life-altering consequences" of the offences.[1]

The mere fact that there was no penetrative intercourse does not render the sexual assault on a "lower" range of penalty.[2]


De facto consent of the victim is not an appropriate form of mitigation.[3]


The use of terms such as "fondling" or "caressing" should be avoided as it tends to minimize the violence involved.[4]

  1. R v Brown, 2020 ONCA 657 (CanLII), 152 OR (3d) 650, per Trotter JA, at para 59 - extending principles from Friesen to adult offences
  2. R v Stuckless, 1998 CanLII 7143 (ON CA){perONCA| ("The absence of penetration does not automatically relegate the sexual abuse of children to the "lower range" of sexual offences. There is no question that "additional force", "collateral crimes" and penetration are aggravating factors. But their absence does not thereby transform them into mitigating circumstances, nor neutralize the other aggravating factors found in this case: the abuse of trust, the number of victims, the frequency of the assaults and their devastating impact on the lives of the victims. These offences were, individually and collectively, unconscionable. Any characterization which purports to diminish their magnitude, is unacceptable.")
  3. See Victims as a Factor in Sentencing
  4. R v Friesen, 2020 SCC 9 (CanLII), per Wagner CJ and Rowe J

Child Sexual Offences

Position of Trust

Position of Trust as a Factor in Sentencing

Historical Sex Offences

Historical Sexual Offences should not have their penalties reduced simply because of the time that has passed between the offence and sentence. The magnitude and culpability remain the same. [1] The importance of denunciation and deterrence as primary sentencing objectives are not diminished.[2]

However, the passage of time can show that the offender is a low risk to re-offend and that the offence is not in the character of the offender.

Case Digests

See Also