Sexual Interference (Offence)

From Criminal Law Notebook
Jump to: navigation, search

Sexual Interference
s. 151 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 1 year incarceration
Maximum 14 years incarceration
Offence Elements
Sentence Digests


Offences relating to sexual interference are found in Part V of the Criminal Code relating to "Sexual Offences, Public Morals and Disorderly Conduct".


Crown Election Defence Election
s. 536(2)
s. 151 [sexual interference] Hybrid Offence(s) Yes Yes, if Crown proceeds by Indictment

Offences under s. 151 are hybrid with a Crown election. If prosecuted by indictment, there is a Defence election of Court under s. 536(2).


Offence(s) Attendance Notice
Without Arrest

s. 496
Without Arrest
s. 497
Release By
Arresting Officer
On Attendance Notice
s. 497
Release By
On a Promise to Appear
Undertaking or Recognizance
s. 498
Release By
a Judge or Justice
on a PTA, Undertaking or Recog.

s. 515
Direct to Attend
for Fingerprints, etc.
Identification of Criminals Act

s. 2 ID Crim. Act
s. 151 OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png

When charged under s. 151, 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 an 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.

A peace officer who charges a person under s. 151 of the Code can require that person to attend for the taking of fingerprints, photographs or other similar recordings that are used to identify them under the Identification of Criminals Act.

Publication Bans
Section s. 151 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
Section s. 151 offences are "primary designated offences" under s. 752 for a Dangerous Offender Order. The offender will be deemed a "substantial risk" for a Long-Term Offender Order under s. 753.1.

Offences under s. 151 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

Sexual interference
151 Every person who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years

(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 one year; 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.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 151; R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 1; 2005, c. 32, s. 3; 2008, c. 6, s. 54; 2012, c. 1, s. 11; 2015, c. 23, s. 2.


Proof of the Offence

Proving sexual interference under s. 151 should include: [1]

  1. identity of accused as culprit
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. that victim was under the age of 16 at the time of the events alleged
  5. the culprit knew the victim was under 16 or the accused did not take reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the victim
  6. the culprit touched the victim anywhere;
  7. the culprit used his body or an object;
  8. that that touching was for a sexual purpose
  1. R v Quinones, 2012 BCCA 94 (CanLII)

Interpretation of the Offence

"[A]n accused who intends sexual interaction of any kind with a child and with that intent makes contact with the body of a child “touches” the child and is guilty of an offence. The section addresses not the instigator of the sexual conduct but rather the adult who for his or her own sexual purposes makes contact, whether as a primary actor or not, with the body of a child." [1]

It is suggested that sexual interference is a specific intent offence.[2]

  1. R v Sears (1990), 58 CCC (3d) 62, 1990 CanLII 10938 (MB CA), per Helper JA
  2. R v B(KW) (1993), 81 CCC (3d) 389, 1993 CanLII 14711 (MB CA), per Twaddle JA

Sexual Purpose

Interference is a specific intent offence that requires proof that the touching was done for a "sexual purpose".[1]

A "sexual purpose" refers to the "sexual gratification" of the accused.[2] A "sexual purpose" can be found from the "circumstances of the situation, including the nature of the touching and any words or gestures accompanying the act".[3]

The term is also found in Definition of Child Pornography as well as the offences of Invitation to Sexual Touching (Offence), Sexual Exploitation (Offence), Voyeurism (Offence), and Indecent Act (Offence).

  1. R v B(KW) (1993), 81 CCC (3d) 389, 1993 CanLII 14711 (MB CA), per Twaddle JA at page 392
    R v Sears (1990), 58 CCC (3d) 62, 1990 CanLII 10938 (MB CA), per Helper JA at p. 64
  2. Sears, ibid. at page 64
  3. R v J.A.B., 2002 CarswellOnt 3241, [2002] O.J. No. 3755(*no CanLII links) at para 43
    See also Sexual Assault (Offence)#Sexual Purpose


As an enumerated offence under s. 274, 275, 276, 277, and 278.2, the following additional evidentiary rules apply:

  • Corroboration is not required for conviction and the judge cannot instruct on need for corroboration (s. 274);
  • common law rules relating to "recent complaint" do not apply for this offence (s. 275);
  • prior sexual history of the complainant "is not admissible to support an inference reason of the sexual nature of that activity, the more likely to have consented to the sexual activity that forms the subject-matter of the charge; or... is less worthy of belief." (s. 276);
  • any evidence of sexual activity other than the "activity that forms the subject-matter of the charge" must be admitted through a s. 276 application (s. 276);
  • any "evidence of sexual reputation, whether general or specific, is not admissible for the purpose of challenging or supporting the credibility of the complainant." (s. 277);
  • "no record relating to a complainant or a witness" shall be disclose to the accused except in accordance with a production application under s. 278.3 to 278.91 (s. 278.2).


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
Maximum Penalty
s. 151 [sexual interference]
From July 17, 2015
Summary Election 2 years less a day custody
s. 151 [sexual interference]
Until July 16, 2015
Summary Election 18 months custody
s. 151 [sexual interference]
November 1, 2005 to July 16, 2015
Summary Election 18 months custody
s. 151 [sexual interference]
Until October 31, 2005
Summary Election 6 months and/or $5,000
s. 151 [sexual interference]
From July 17, 2015
Indictable Election 14 years custody
s. 151 [sexual interference]
Until July 16, 2015
Indictable Election 10 years custody

Offences under s. 151 are hybrid. If prosecuted by indictment, the maximum penalty is 14 years incarceration. If prosecuted by summary conviction, the maximum penalty is 18 months jail.

Minimum Penalties

Offence(s) Crown
Minimum Penalty
First Offence
Minimum Penalty
Subsequent Offence
s. 151 [sexual interference]
From August 9, 2012
Summary Election 90 days custody Same
s. 151 [sexual interference]
From August 9, 2012
Indictable Election 1 year custody Same
s. 151 [sexual interference]
November 10, 2005 to August 8, 2012
Summary Election 14 days custody Same
s. 151 [sexual interference]
November 10, 2005 to August 8, 2012
Indictable Election 45 days custody Same

Offences under s. 151 have a mandatory minimum penalty of 1 year jail when prosecuted by indictment and 90 day jail when prosecuted by summary conviction.

Available Dispositions

Offence(s) Crown
s. 730

s. 731(1)(a)

s. 731(1)(b)
s. 718.3, 787
Custody and
s. 731(1)(b)
Custody and
s. 734
s. 742.1
s. 151 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. 151 have mandatory minimums. There are no discharges, suspended sentences, stand-alone fines, or conditional sentences available.

Consecutive Sentences
Under s. 718.3(7), where the judge sentences an accused at the same time for "more than one sexual offence committed against a child", a sentence other than under s. 163.1 must be consecutive to a sentence for "a sexual offence committed against a child, other than an offence under section 163.1, be served consecutively to a sentence of imprisonment it imposes for a sexual offence committed against another child other than an offence under section 163.1."(see s. 718.3(7)(b)) [note: this only applies for offences occurring after enactment of Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act on July 16, 2015]

The variable mandatory minimums violate s. 9 of the Charter but is saved by s. 1.[1] Other courts have found the mandatory minimum of 1 year jail to be "cruel and unusual punishment" under the Charter.[2]

The minimum in s. 151(b) does not violate s. 15 of the Charter.[3]

  1. R v Lonegren, 2009 BCSC 1678 (CanLII) and 2010 BCSC 960 (CanLII)
  2. R v Ford, 2017 ABQB 322 (CanLII) (section 151(1)(a)
    R v Hussein, 2017 ONSC 4202 (CanLII) (section 151(1)(a))
    R v T (BJ), 2016 ONSC 6616(*no CanLII links) (section 151(1)(a))
    R v P (SJ), 2016 NSPC 50 (CanLII), per Ross PCJ - s 151(1)(a)
    R v Hood, 2018 NSCA 18 (CanLII) (s. 151(1)(a))
    c.f. R v EJB, 2018 ABCA 239 (CanLII) at para 73
  3. R v B(TM), 2013 ONSC 4019 (CanLII)


The sexual interference is a "serious violation of the physical and sexual integrity of the child" and has forseeably causes "serious psychological or emotional harm."[1]

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).

Section 718.2(a)(ii.1) requires that the judge treat as aggravating any "evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused a person under the age of eighteen years".

It is an aggravating factor for the offender to have been in a position of trust. A position of trust is distinctive from a position of authority and will be determined on the specific facts including the conduct of the offender.[2]

  1. R v Hajar, 2016 ABCA 222 (CanLII)
  2. Audet 1996 CanLII 198 (SCC), [1996] 2 SCR 171


see also: Sexual Interference (Sentencing Cases)

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the range of sentence for sexual intercourse with a child by a person in a position of trust is 3 to 5 years.[1]

However, the upper end of the range can go beyond 5 years.[2]

In Manitoba, the starting point for sexual interference is 4 to 5 years where a major sexual assault occurs, including vaginal/anal intercourse, fellatio, or cunnilingus, on a child where the offender is in a position of trust.[3]

There is a starting point for serious sexual interference of 3 years.[4]

  1. R v W.W.M., [2006] O.J. No. 440, 2006 CanLII 3262 (ON CA) at para 14
  2. R v Mullings, 2012 ONCA 911 (CanLII)
  3. R v RJ, 2017 MBCA 13 (CanLII) at para 17
    R v Sidwell (KA), 2015 MBCA 56 (CanLII) at para 49
  4. R v Hajar, 2016 ABCA 222 (CanLII) at para 63 to 68

Ancillary Sentencing Orders

See also: Ancillary Orders

Offence-specific Orders

Order Conviction Description
Weapons Prohibition Orders s. 151
  • On conviction under s. 151 where "violence against a person was used, threatened or attempted", and was prosecuted by indictment, punishable by "imprisonment for ten years or more", the weapons prohibition order is mandatory under s. 109(1)(a).
DNA Orders s. 151
SOIRA Orders s. 151
  • On conviction under s. 151, 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 where the offence has been "prosecuted summarily or if the maximum term of imprisonment for the offence is two or five years" (s. 490.013(2)(a))) or 20 years where the offence has a "maximum term of imprisonment for the offence is 10 or 14 years" (s. 490.013(2)(b)).
      • There is an option for early termination under s. 490.015 available after 5 years (if 10 year order), 10 years (if 20 year order), or 20 year (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

Section 161 Orders s. 151
  • If convicted under s. 151, the judge may make discretionary 161 Order.
Delayed Parole Order s. 151
  • Periods of imprisonment of 2 years or more for convictions under s. 151 are eligible for delayed parole order under s. 743.6(1) requiring the offender to serve at least "one half of the sentence or ten years, whichever is less", "where denunciation of the offence or the objective of specific or general deterrence so requires".

General Sentencing Orders

Order Conviction Description
Non-communication order while offender in custody (s. 743.21) any The judge has the 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 the 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(1) 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.


See also: List of Criminal Code Amendments

See Also