The age of consent is an important component of Canadian law. An individual who reaches the age of consent can legally agree to engage in sexual activity. The Canadian criminal code imposes severe penalties on those who participate in sexual activity with those younger than the age of consent. Some common sexual offences include statutory rape and sexual exploitation.
It is also important to understand the legal meaning of the word “consent” under the Canadian criminal code. Consent is the voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Anything less than such an agreement is not legal consent under Canadian law. For example, an individual may be unable to consent because they are unconscious. An individual must actively consent to sexual activity.
If you are facing charges related to sexual assault or statutory rape, you need to understand the details of Canada’s age of consent laws. Having knowledge of these laws can help you determine if you need to seek out a criminal defence lawyer.
What Is the Age of Consent in Canada?
The age of consent for non-exploitative sexual activity is sixteen years old. Before May 2008, the age of consent in Canada was fourteen years old.
If the sexual activity engaged in can be considered exploitative, or where there is a relationship of trust or authority, the age of consent is eighteen years old. Exploitative sexual activity may include a sexual relationship between an underage student and a teacher.
What Is Consent to Sexual Activity?
Consent is the voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. An individual who begins any sexual contact with another person should establish consent and stop the sexual activity if consent is withheld. Any person under the age of consent is not old enough to make an informed decision to engage in sexual activity.
Oftentimes, cases involving charges related to sexual contact with a person under the age of consent lack concrete evidence. Many parties may claim that sexual contact occurred when in fact, no sexual activity took place between the parties.
A skilled criminal defence lawyer can help you stand up for your legal rights in the event that you are falsely accused of sexual activity with a person younger than the age of consent.
Exemptions on Canada’s Age of Consent Law
Individuals who are twelve and thirteen years old may consent to sexual activity with another person less than two years older than themselves. A twelve-year-old can consent to sexual activity with a person who is between the ages of twelve years old and fourteen years old. A thirteen-year-old can consent to sexual activity with a person who is between twelve years old and fifteen years old.
An individual who is fourteen or fifteen years old may consent to sexual activity with a partner who is less than five years older than themselves. A fourteen-year-old may consent to sexual activity with a person who is between twelve years old and nineteen years old. A fifteen-year-old may consent to sexual activity with a person who is between thirteen years old and twenty years old.
Individuals who are sixteen or seventeen years old have reached the age of consent if their partner is at least fourteen years old. If a teenager who is younger than sixteen years old is actively participating in sexual activity with an individual who is older than their peer group, it constitutes a criminal offence. Even if the teenager gave their permission, the consent is not valid under Canadian law.
In Canada, children younger than twelve years old may not legally consent to any type of sexual activity. Children under the age of eighteen may not legally consent to sexual activity with a person over eighteen years where there exists a relationship of dependency, trust, or authority.
Charges You Could Face for Sexual Contact with a Minor
Being charged with a sexual offence in Canada is a serious matter, and the penalties associated with a conviction are severe. Registration in the Canada Sex Offender Registry, long-term imprisonment, and restrictions on employment and travel are common penalties imposed by the Crown after an individual is convicted of a sexual offence.
An individual who has sexual activity with a person younger than the age of consent could face a charge of sexual assault. This law applies even if one party believed the other party “willingly” participated.
Also, an individual who engages in sexual activity with a person younger than the age of consent could face a charge of statutory rape. Statutory rape is defined as sexual contact with an individual who is younger than the age of consent.
You Need a Skilled Lawyer
Facing sexual offence charges in Canada can cause severe emotional distress. Registering as a sex offender, serving a term of imprisonment, and paying fines can affect an accused for the remainder of their life. Being a registered sex offender can cause an individual to lose opportunities related to employment and housing.
Speaking to an experienced criminal defence lawyer can help you devise an effective defensive strategy. Do not assume that the court will help you with your case; reach out for legal advice and legal representation so you can understand how to protect yourself against the power of the Crown. A criminal defence lawyer can provide you with a clear explanation of your legal rights and how you can protect yourself from being convicted of sexual assault or statutory rape.
Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defence Lawyer in Toronto
If you are facing criminal charges, it is important that you speak with a knowledgeable sexual interference lawyer, so you understand the charges against you. We work tirelessly for our clients, and we pride ourselves on the work we accomplish.
Call Vilkhov Law today at (647) 977-5852 to schedule a free consultation. Vilkhov Law believes in helping clients defend their legal rights.