Distribution of Intimate Images (Offence)
|Distribution of Intimate Images|
|s. 162.1 of the Crim. Code|
|Election / Plea|
summary proceedings must initiate within 12 months of the offence (786(2))
Sup. Court w/ Jury (*)
|Avail. Disp.||Discharge (730)|
Conditional Sentence (742.1)
|Maximum||2 years less a day jail and/or a $5,000 fine (from Sept 19, 2019)|
|Avail. Disp.||same as summary|
|Maximum||5 years incarceration|
- 1 Overview
- 2 Offence Wording
- 3 Proof of the Offence
- 4 Interpretation of the Offence
- 5 Defences
- 6 Participation of Third Parties
- 7 Sentencing Principles and Ranges
- 8 Ancillary Sentencing Orders
- 9 Record Suspensions and Pardons
- 10 History
- Note: this offence came into force March 9th, 2015. There can be no charges under this section for conduct that pre-dates the enactment date
Offences relating to distribution of intimate images are found in Part V of the Criminal Code relating to "Sexual Offences, Public Morals and Disorderly Conduct".
|Crown Election||Defence Election
|s. 162.1 [distribution of intimate images]||Hybrid Offence(s)||(* only if Crown proceeds by Indictment)||(under 14 years max)|
Offences under s. 162.1 [distribution of intimate images] are hybrid with a Crown election. If prosecuted by indictment, there is a Defence election of Court under s. 536(2) to trial by provincial court, superior court judge-alone or superior court judge-and-jury.
by Peace Officer
by Judge or Justice
s. 508(1), 512(1), or 788
s. 498, 499, and 501
a Judge or Justice
on a Release Order
s. 515 to 519
|Direct to Attend |
for Fingerprints, etc.
Identification of Criminals Act
s. 2 ID Crim. Act
|s. 162.1 [distribution of intimate images]|
When charged under s. 162.1 [distribution of intimate images] , the accused can be given an appearance notice without arrest under s. 497 or a summons. If arrested, he can be released by the arresting officer under s. 498 or 499 on an undertaking with or without conditions. He can also be released by a justice under s. 515.
- Reverse Onus Bail
If police decide to bring the accused before a Justice pursuant to s. 503, there will be a presumption against bail (i.e. a 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)).
- Fingerprints and Photos
A peace officer who charges a person under s. 162.1 [distribution of intimate images] 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
For all criminal or regulatory prosecutions, there is a discretionary general publication ban available on application of the Crown, victim or witness to prohibit the publishing of "any information that could identify the victim or witness" under s. 486.5(1) where it is "necessary" for the "proper administration of justice". Other available publication bans include prohibitions for publishing evidence or other information arising from a bail hearing (s. 517), preliminary inquiry (s. 539) or jury trial (s. 648). There is a mandatory publication ban in all youth prosecutions on information tending to identify young accused under s. 110 of the YCJA or young victims under s. 111 of the YCJA.
- Offence Designations
|AG Consent Required||Serious Criminality|
s. 36 IRPA
|s. 162.1 [distribution of intimate images]||(under 10 years max)|
See below in Ancillary Sentencing Orders for details on designations relating to sentencing orders.
Draft Form of Charges
|"THAT [accused full name] stands charged that, between the <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR> and <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR>***, at or near <COMMUNITY/TOWN/CITY>, <PROVINCE>, he [or she]..." OR|
|"THAT [accused full name] stands charged that, on or about the <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR>, at or near <COMMUNITY/TOWN/CITY>, <PROVINCE>, he [or she]..." OR|
|"AND FURTHER at the same time and place aforesaid, he [or she]..."|
|Code Section||Subject of Offence||Draft Wording|
|162.1||"..., contrary to section 162.1 of the Criminal Code.|
Proof of the Offence
Proving distribution of intimate images under s. 162.1 should include:
Interpretation of the Offence
The offence was created in response to several incidents of cyberbullying and was enacted in order to address the dangers of "revenge porn".
"publishes, distributes, transmits, sells, makes available or advertises"
Participation of Third Parties
- 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.
It has been pointed out that this offence was notably excluded from the list of enumerated offences in s. 486.4(1)(a) which would trigger a publication ban.
- On Finding of Guilt
s. 606(4.1), (4.2)
|Victim Notice |
of Impact Statement
|s. 162.1 [distribution of intimate images]||(on indictment, victim must make request)|
For any indictable offence with a maximum penalty no less than 5 years (including offences under s. 162.1), but are not serious personal injury offences, s. 606(4.2) 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
- Maximum Penalties
|s. 162.1 [distribution of intimate images]||summary election||2 years less a day jail and/or a $5,000 fine (from Sept 19, 2019)|
|s. 162.1 [distribution of intimate images]||indictable election||5 years incarceration|
Offences under s. 162.1 [distribution of intimate images] are hybrid. If prosecuted by indictment, the maximum penalty is 5 years incarceration. If prosecuted by summary conviction, the maximum penalty is 2 years less a day jail and/or a $5,000 fine (from Sept 19, 2019).
- Minimum Penalties
These offences have no mandatory minimum penalties.
- Available Dispositions
s. 718.3, 787
|s. 162.1 [distribution of intimate images]||any|
All dispositions are available.The judge may order a discharge (s. 730), suspended sentence (s. 731(1)(a)), fine (s. 731(1)(b)), custody (s. 718.3, 787), custody with probation (s. 731(1)(b)), custody with a fine (s. 734), or a conditional sentence (s. 742.1).
- 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 must be consecutive where:
- one of the sexual offences against that child is an offence relating to child pornography under s. 163.1. (see s. 718.3(7)(a)); or
- each of the sexual offences against a child, other than a child pornography offence, related to a different child. (see s. 718.3(7)(a))
[note: this only applies for offences occurring after enactment of Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act on July 16, 2015]
The offence is both an offence against sexual integrity and against privacy.
It is aggravating where the offence is combined with extortion and Will usually include a jail sentence.
It is logical to conclude that cyberbullying is harmful to children. It can cause loss of self-esteem, anxiety, fear, school drop-outs and increase in suicide attempts.
- 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).
- Other Factors
Factors that may go to the gravity of the offence may include:
- number of images distributed
- level of intimacy of the image
- ability to identify the victim from the image
- presence of malice, threats, extortion or bullying
- age of victim
- psychological harm to victim and risk of future
- similar prior history
- other related charges arising from incident
- R v McFarlane, 2018 MBCA 48 (CanLII), per Mainella JA, at para 24 ("It is a sexual offence and a privacy offence, and sentences for it must reflect both of these aims of the legislation.")
McFarlane, ibid., at para 24 ("Deterrence and denunciation are the primary sentencing objectives and such conduct typically will result in a custodial sentence")
R v AC, 2017 ONCJ 317 (CanLII), per Rahman J, at paras 17 to 20, 28, 56
R v JS, 2018 ONCJ 82 (CanLII), per Ghosh J, at para 20
R v AB, 2020 QCCQ 260 (CanLII), per Galiatsatos J, at para 80
- AB, ibid., at para 81
- McFarlane, supra, at para 24 ("Because this offence was committed as part of the sextortion and the six-month sentence was made concurrent to the extortion sentence, we saw no reason to adjust it other than to point out it was at the low end of the range.")
AB v Bragg Communications, 2012 SCC 46 (CanLII), per Abella J, at para 20
Ancillary Sentencing Orders
|DNA Orders||s. 162.1 [distribution of intimate images]||
- General Sentencing Orders
|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 discretionary 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 has smaller minimum amounts (15%, $50, or $100).|
- General Forfeiture Orders
|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.|
Record Suspensions and Pardons
Convictions under s. 162.1 [distribution of intimate images] are eligible for record suspensions pursuant to s. 3 and 4 of the Criminal Records Act after 5 years after the expiration of sentence for summary conviction offences and 10 years after the expiration of sentence for all other offences. The offender may not have the record suspended where the offender was (1) convicted of 3 or more offences with a maximum penalty of life, and (2) for each 3 offences he "was sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more".
This offence went into force on March 9th, 2015.
- See Bill C-13