Section 161 Orders

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General Principles

When an offender is convicted on an enumerated offence concerning persons under the age 16, section 161 of the Criminal Code permits the court to make an order prohibiting the offender’s from certain activities that may have them in contact with persons under the age of 16.

Order of prohibition

161 (1) When an offender is convicted, or is discharged on the conditions prescribed in a probation order under section 730 [order of discharge], of an offence referred to in subsection (1.1) [161 prohibition order – applicable offences] in respect of a person who is under the age of 16 years, the court that sentences the offender or directs that the accused be discharged, as the case may be, in addition to any other punishment that may be imposed for that offence or any other condition prescribed in the order of discharge, shall consider making and may make, subject to the conditions or exemptions that the court directs, an order prohibiting the offender from

(a) attending a public park or public swimming area where persons under the age of 16 years are present or can reasonably be expected to be present, or a daycare centre, schoolground, playground or community centre;
(a.1) being within two kilometres, or any other distance specified in the order, of any dwelling-house where the victim identified in the order ordinarily resides or of any other place specified in the order;
(b) seeking, obtaining or continuing any employment, whether or not the employment is remunerated, or becoming or being a volunteer in a capacity, that involves being in a position of trust or authority towards persons under the age of 16 years;
(c) having any contact — including communicating by any means — with a person who is under the age of 16 years, unless the offender does so under the supervision of a person whom the court considers appropriate; or
(d) using the Internet or other digital network, unless the offender does so in accordance with conditions set by the court.

[omitted (1.1), (2), (3) and (4)]
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 161; R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 4; 1993, c. 45, s. 1; 1995, c. 22, s. 18; 1997, c. 18, s. 4; 1999, c. 31, s. 67; 2002, c. 13, s. 4; 2005, c. 32, s. 5; 2008, c. 6, s. 54; 2012, c. 1, s. 16; 2014, c. 21, s. 1, c. 25, s. 5; 2015, c. 23, s. 6; 2019, c. 25, s. 55.
[annotation(s) added]

CCC


Note up: 161(1)

Purpose

The purpose of s. 161 orders is to protect vulnerable children from sexual violence.[1] They are preventative in nature.[2] It limits the offender's contact with children and prevents "them from obtaining access to children through positions where children will be vulnerable to them."[3] The 2012 changes to s. 161(1)(d) was enacted to "close a legislative gap created by rapid social and technological changes" as the this is so that the "court is better able to monitor offenders' use of the Internet thereby limiting their opportunities to offend and preventing such behaviour".[4]

Punishment

It is considered a "punishment" and is part of the arsenal of sanctions available to a judge.[5]

Constitutionality and Retrospectivity

Section 161(1)(c) is not retrospective as it violates s. 11(i) of the Charter prohibiting retroactive punishments.[6] However, s. 161(1)(d) is retrospective as the violation of s. 11(i) of the Charter is permitted under s. 1 of the Charter.[7]

Standard of Appellate Review

The order under s. 161 is discretionary and so appellate courts should not intervene "absent an error in principle" or where a prohibition is "demonstrably unfit and unreasonable".[8]

  1. R v KRJ, 2016 SCC 31 (CanLII), per Karakatsanis J, at paras 44 to 46
    R v Shultz, 2018 ONCA 598 (CanLII), per Brown JA, at para 41 ("The overarching protective function of s. 161 of the Criminal Code is to shield children from sexual violence")
  2. R v SB, 2008 ONCJ 383 (CanLII), per Hackett J
  3. R v RMG, 2001 CanLII 21827 (NL PC), [2001] N.J. No. 269 (NLPC), per Gorman J
  4. R v Brar, 2016 ONCA 724 (CanLII), per Rouleau JA, at para 17
    Shultz, supra, at para 42
    KRJ, supra, at para 108
  5. KRJ, supra, at paras 50 and 57
    R v Miller, 2017 NLCA 22 (CanLII), per Hoegg JA, at para 8
  6. R v KRJ, 2016 SCC 31 (CanLII), per Karakatsanis J
    see also Charter Issues in Sentencing
  7. KRJ, ibid.
  8. Shultz, supra, at para 43
    R v WQ, 2006 CanLII 21035 (ON CA), per Macfarland JA, at para 25
    Brar, supra, at para 26

Applicable Offences

The applicable offences are listed in s. 161(1.1):

161
[omitted (1)]

Offences

(1.1) The offences for the purpose of subsection (1) [161 prohibition order – power and conditions] are

(a) an offence under section 151 [sexual interference], 152 [invitation to sexual touching] or 155 [incest], subsection 160(2) [compelling bestiality] or (3) [bestiality in presence of or by child], section 163.1 [child pornography], 170 [parent or guardian procuring sexual activity], 171 [householder permitting prohibited sexual activity], 171.1 [making sexually explicit materials available to child], 172.1 [child luring] or 172.2 [agree or arrange sexual offence against child], subsection 173(2) [exposure to person under 16], section 271 [sexual assault], 272 [sexual assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm], 273 [aggravated sexual assault] or 279.011 [trafficking in persons, under 18], subsection 279.02(2) [material benefit from trafficking, under 18] or 279.03(2) [withholding or destroying docs, under 18], section [abduction of a person under 16] 280 or [abduction of a person under 14] 281 or subsection 286.1(2) [obtaining sexual services for consideration — person under 18], 286.2(2) [material benefit from sexual services provided — person under 18] or 286.3(2) [procuring — person under 18];
(b) an offence under section 144 (rape), 145 (attempt to commit rape), 149 (indecent assault on female), 156 (indecent assault on male) or 245 (common assault) or subsection 246(1) (assault with intent) of the Criminal Code, chapter C-34 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1970, as it read immediately before January 4, 1983;
(c) an offence under subsection 146(1) (sexual intercourse with a female under 14) or section 153 (sexual intercourse with step-daughter), 155 (buggery or bestiality), 157 (gross indecency), 166 (parent or guardian procuring defilement) or 167 (householder permitting defilement) of the Criminal Code, chapter C-34 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1970, as it read immediately before January 1, 1988; or
(d) an offence under subsection 212(1) (procuring), 212(2) (living on the avails of prostitution of person under 18 years), 212(2.1) (aggravated offence in relation to living on the avails of prostitution of person under 18 years) or 212(4) (prostitution of person under 18 years) of this Act, as it read from time to time before the day on which this paragraph comes into force.


[omitted (2), (3) and (4)]

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 161; R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 4; 1993, c. 45, s. 1; 1995, c. 22, s. 18; 1997, c. 18, s. 4; 1999, c. 31, s. 67; 2002, c. 13, s. 4; 2005, c. 32, s. 5; 2008, c. 6, s. 54; 2012, c. 1, s. 16; 2014, c. 21, s. 1, c. 25, s. 5; 2015, c. 23, s. 6; 2019, c. 25, s. 55.

[annotation(s) added]

CCC


Note up: 161(1.1)

The amendment of 2019, c. 25 removed s. 159 (anal intercourse) from the list found in s. 161(1.1)(a).

Section 161(1.1)(b) and (c) list applicable offences as they existed pre-1988.

Offences listed include:

Certain sexual offences such as sexual exploitation of a disabled person (153.1), and voyeurism (162) are among those not listed.

Application

Section 161 Order is a discretionary order.[1] However, that discretion must be exercised "judicially".[2]

It should not be applied as a "matter of course". There must be an "evidentiary basis upon which to conclude that the particular offender poses a risk to children".[3]

The terms of the order "order must constitute a reasonable attempt to minimize the risk; and, the content of the order must respond carefully to an offender’s specific circumstances".[4]

The sentencing judge should take a "purposive approach" to the imposition of s. 161 and assess "the extent of the risk to children based on a number of factors, including the circumstances of the offence and offender".[5]


It has been suggested that courts should not be reluctant on the imposition of an order.[6]

A judge may refuse to make an order where the victims and the public are adequately protected by other means such as probation.[7]

Simply because the child pornography consisted of drawings rather than images of child abuse will not be sufficient reason to refrain from ordering a s.161 order.[8]

Evidentiary Basis

It is necessary that there be an "evidentiary basis upon which to conclude that the particular offender poses a risk to children" and the judge is satisfied that the specific terms of the order are "a reasonable attempt to minimize that risk".[9]

An absence of any evidence that the offender had attempted to contact children is valid reasons for the judge to decline to make orders under s. 161(1)(a), (b) or (c).[10]

Absence of Risk of Recidivism

Neither the absence of a prior record or other evidence of recidivism are reasons not to impose a s. 161 order. The circumstances of the case themselves can often be reason enough.[11]

Even with an assessment that shows the offence as a low risk of recidivism, it may still be appropriate to order a s. 161 order.[12]

  1. R v DK, 2013 ONSC 1851 (CanLII), per Conlan J, at para 22
    R v Miller, 2017 NLCA 22 (CanLII), per Hoegg JA, at para 19
  2. Miller, ibid., at para 19
    R v Bussey, 2014 NLCA 18 (CanLII), per Welsh JA, at para 12
  3. R v Schultz, 2018 ONCA 598 (CanLII), per Brown JA, at para 41
  4. Schutz, ibid., at para 41
    R v KRJ, 2016 SCC 31 (CanLII), per Karakatsanis J, at paras 48 to 49
  5. R v RKA, 2006 ABCA 82 (CanLII), per Paperny JA, at para 26
    Miller, supra, at para 11
  6. RMG, ibid.
  7. DK, ibid., at para 23
  8. R v MK, 2010 NBCA 71 (CanLII), per Robertson JA, at paras 26 to 28
  9. Miller, supra, at para 9
    KRJ, supra, at para 48
  10. R v Schultz, 2008 ABQB 679 (CanLII), per Topolniski J, at para 54
  11. RKA, supra, at para 28
  12. e.g. Shultz, supra

Terms and Conditions

Section 161(1)(a) to (d) sets out the available conditions for a s. 161 order:

Order of prohibition

161. (1) ... the court that sentences the offender ... shall consider making and may make, subject to the conditions or exemptions that the court directs, an order prohibiting the offender from

(a) attending a public park or public swimming area where persons under the age of 16 years are present or can reasonably be expected to be present, or a daycare centre, schoolground, playground or community centre;
(a.1) being within two kilometres, or any other distance specified in the order, of any dwelling-house where the victim identified in the order ordinarily resides or of any other place specified in the order;
(b) seeking, obtaining or continuing any employment, whether or not the employment is remunerated, or becoming or being a volunteer in a capacity, that involves being in a position of trust or authority towards persons under the age of 16 years;
(c) having any contact — including communicating by any means — with a person who is under the age of 16 years, unless the offender does so under the supervision of a person whom the court considers appropriate; or
(d) using the Internet or other digital network, unless the offender does so in accordance with conditions set by the court.

[omitted (1.1), (2), (3) and (4)]

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 161 R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 4; 1993, c. 45, s. 1; 1995, c. 22, s. 18; 1997, c. 18, s. 4; 1999, c. 31, s. 67; 2002, c. 13, s. 4; 2005, c. 32, s. 5; 2008, c. 6, s. 54; 2012, c. 1, s. 16; 2014, c. 21, s. 1, c. 25, s. 5; 2015, c. 23, s. 6; 2019, c. 25, s. 55.

CCC


Note up: 161(1)

The order would prevent an offender from:

  1. attending a public park or public swimming area where persons under the age of 16 years are present or can reasonably be expected to be present, or a daycare centre, schoolground, playground or community centre (161(1)(a))
  2. being within two kilometres, or any other distance specified in the order, of any dwelling-house where the victim identified in the order ordinarily resides or of any other place specified in the order; (161(1)(a.1))
  3. seeking, obtaining or continuing any employment, whether or not the employment is remunerated, or becoming or being a volunteer in a capacity, that involves being in a position of trust or authority towards persons under the age of 16 years (161(1)(b));
  4. having any contact — including communicating by any means — with a person who is under the age of 16 years, unless the offender does so under the supervision of a person whom the court considers appropriate (161(1)(c))
  5. using the Internet or other digital network, unless the offender does so in accordance with conditions set by the court (161(1)(d))
Personalization of Terms

Where a s. 161(1)(d) order is being made limited use of a computer may be appropriate where risk can be minimized. Exceptions can be done for situations such as the use of "devices capable of accessing the Internet or email not only at the appellant’s place of employment, but also 'as required for employment-related purposes.'"[1]

  1. e.g. R v Schultz, 2018 ONCA 598 (CanLII), per Brown JA, at para 56

Definitions

"Attending"

Restriction on "attending" will refer to being present on the property and not simply across the street from the location.[1]

Community Centre

A community centre will include public libraries.[2]

Park or Playground

A carnival is neither a park or playground.[3]

Swimming Areas

The restrictions on swimming areas will also include pools found in apartment buildings and other complexes.[4]

  1. R v Jacobs, 2014 CanLII 979 (NL PC), per Walsh J
  2. R v Allaby, 2017 SKCA 25 (CanLII), per Ottenbreit JA
  3. R v Lachapelle, 2008 BCSC 511 (CanLII), per Butler J see also R v Cameron, 2010 ABPC 311 (CanLII), per Creagh J
  4. R v D’Angelo, 2002 CanLII 12379 (ON CA), (2002) 166 OAC 92 (ONCA), per MacPherson JA

Duration

161
[omitted (1) and (1.2)]

Duration of prohibition

(2) The prohibition may be for life or for any shorter duration that the court considers desirable and, in the case of a prohibition that is not for life, the prohibition begins on the later of

(a) the date on which the order is made; and
(b) where the offender is sentenced to a term of imprisonment, the date on which the offender is released from imprisonment for the offence, including release on parole, mandatory supervision or statutory release.

[omitted (3) and (4)]
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 161 R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 4; 1993, c. 45, s. 1; 1995, c. 22, s. 18; 1997, c. 18, s. 4; 1999, c. 31, s. 67; 2002, c. 13, s. 4; 2005, c. 32, s. 5; 2008, c. 6, s. 54; 2012, c. 1, s. 16; 2014, c. 21, s. 1, c. 25, s. 5; 2015, c. 23, s. 6; 2019, c. 25, s. 55.

CCC


Note up: 161(2)

The prohibition can be of any length of time up to life.[1] The starting point of the order would either be at the time of sentence or at the time of release from custody.[2]

A 20 year order would generally be reserved for only some of the worst offenders.[3]

Sexual assaults will typically be under 10 years.[4]

When considering the effect of prior-related records, convictions for sexual offences while the offender was a youth should not be considered if it occurred more than 5 years prior to the adult offence.[5]

In practice, the judges will usually impose a 161 order for a period of 10 years or life for the most serious sexual predator offences.

Second time child pornography offence got 15 years order under 161.[6]

  1. 161(2)
  2. s. 161(2)(a) and (b)
  3. R v RRB, 2013 BCCA 224 (CanLII), per Prowse JA, at para 32
  4. RRB, ibid. (3 years) touching/fellatio of a minor
  5. R v Able, 2013 ONCA 385 (CanLII), per Tulloch JA, at paras 11 to 29
  6. R v Stupnikoff, 2013 SKPC 57 (CanLII), per Agnew J, at para 61

Variations

The condition can be varied by the same court.[1]

161
[omitted (1), (1.1) and (2)]

Court may vary order

(3) A court that makes an order of prohibition or, where the court is for any reason unable to act, another court of equivalent jurisdiction in the same province, may, on application of the offender or the prosecutor, require the offender to appear before it at any time and, after hearing the parties, that court may vary the conditions prescribed in the order if, in the opinion of the court, the variation is desirable because of changed circumstances after the conditions were prescribed.
[omitted (4)]
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 161 R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 4; 1993, c. 45, s. 1; 1995, c. 22, s. 18; 1997, c. 18, s. 4; 1999, c. 31, s. 67; 2002, c. 13, s. 4; 2005, c. 32, s. 5; 2008, c. 6, s. 54; 2012, c. 1, s. 16; 2014, c. 21, s. 1, c. 25, s. 5; 2015, c. 23, s. 6; 2019, c. 25, s. 55.

CCC


Note up: 161(3)

  1. s. 161(3)

Breaches

Violations of the Order is a hybrid offence, either on summary conviction or a maximum of 2 years on indictable election.[1]

161
[omitted (1), (1.1), (2) and (3)]

Offence

(4) Every person who is bound by an order of prohibition and who does not comply with the order is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than four years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 161 R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 4; 1993, c. 45, s. 1; 1995, c. 22, s. 18; 1997, c. 18, s. 4; 1999, c. 31, s. 67; 2002, c. 13, s. 4; 2005, c. 32, s. 5; 2008, c. 6, s. 54; 2012, c. 1, s. 16; 2014, c. 21, s. 1, c. 25, s. 5; 2015, c. 23, s. 6; 2019, c. 25, s. 55.

CCC


Note up: 161(4)

  1. s. 161(4)

History

See also: List of Criminal Code Amendments and Table of Concordance (Criminal Code)

On August 9, 2012, section 161 was amended to add s. 161(1)(c) and (d) and to add other enumerated offences found in s. 161(1.1).[1]

On July 17, 2015, the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act (Bill C-26) came into force resulting in an increase of the maximum penalties for convictions under s. 161(4). On summary conviction, the maximum penalties increased from 6 months to 18 months. On indictable election, the maximum penalties increased from 2 years to 4 years.

2012 to 2015

Order of prohibition

161 (1) When an offender is convicted, or is discharged on the conditions prescribed in a probation order under section 730, of an offence referred to in subsection (1.1) in respect of a person who is under the age of 16 years, the court that sentences the offender or directs that the accused be discharged, as the case may be, in addition to any other punishment that may be imposed for that offence or any other condition prescribed in the order of discharge, shall consider making and may make, subject to the conditions or exemptions that the court directs, an order prohibiting the offender from

(a) attending a public park or public swimming area where persons under the age of 16 years are present or can reasonably be expected to be present, or a daycare centre, schoolground, playground or community centre;
(a.1) being within two kilometres, or any other distance specified in the order, of any dwelling-house where the victim identified in the order ordinarily resides or of any other place specified in the order;
(b) seeking, obtaining or continuing any employment, whether or not the employment is remunerated, or becoming or being a volunteer in a capacity, that involves being in a position of trust or authority towards persons under the age of 16 years;
(c) having any contact — including communicating by any means — with a person who is under the age of 16 years, unless the offender does so under the supervision of a person whom the court considers appropriate; or
(d) using the Internet or other digital network, unless the offender does so in accordance with conditions set by the court.

...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 161; R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 4; 1993, c. 45, s. 1; 1995, c. 22, s. 18; 1997, c. 18, s. 4; 1999, c. 31, s. 67; 2002, c. 13, s. 4; 2005, c. 32, s. 5; 2008, c. 6, s. 54; 2012, c. 1, s. 16; 2014, c. 21, s. 1, c. 25, s. 5.

[ CCC]


Note up: 161(1)

2008 to 2012

Order of prohibition

161 (1) When an offender is convicted, or is discharged on the conditions prescribed in a probation order under section 730, of an offence referred to in subsection (1.1) in respect of a person who is under the age of 16 years, the court that sentences the offender or directs that the accused be discharged, as the case may be, in addition to any other punishment that may be imposed for that offence or any other condition prescribed in the order of discharge, shall consider making and may make, subject to the conditions or exemptions that the court directs, an order prohibiting the offender from

(a) attending a public park or public swimming area where persons under the age of 16 years are present or can reasonably be expected to be present, or a daycare centre, schoolground, playground or community centre;
(b) seeking, obtaining or continuing any employment, whether or not the employment is remunerated, or becoming or being a volunteer in a capacity, that involves being in a position of trust or authority towards persons under the age of 16 years; or
(c) using a computer system within the meaning of subsection 342.1(2) for the purpose of communicating with a person under the age of 16 years.

...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 161; R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 4; 1993, c. 45, s. 1; 1995, c. 22, s. 18; 1997, c. 18, s. 4; 1999, c. 31, s. 67; 2002, c. 13, s. 4; 2005, c. 32, s. 5; 2008, c. 6, s. 54.

CCC

Digest

See Also