Individuals facing sexual interference charges must take these kinds of accusations seriously, as being convicted of sexual interference can damage every aspect of your life. Sexual interference is a serious offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Individuals charged with sexual interference are accused of directly or indirectly touching any human being for sexual purposes who is younger than sixteen years of age.
Canadian law takes criminal offences against children very seriously. Sexual interference is codified under Section 151 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which defines it as a criminal offence that applies to “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.”
How Sexual Interference Charges Are Determined
Sexual interference charges often arise after an adult who is responsible for a child reports alleged misconduct to a police department. Officers will often record a statement made by the person under sixteen years of age who claims to have been sexually touched. Also, officers will interview any witnesses who claim to have knowledge of the purported sexual interference.
Police departments perform extensive investigations regarding reports of sexual interference. Officers will interview many different parties, including friends of the individual under sixteen years of age, as well as their family members. The alleged victim will also be required to undergo a thorough physical examination, usually termed a “sex assault kit.” A licensed physician will analyze the alleged victim’s body to determine if there is any physical evidence of sexual misconduct.
Police officers will still arrest an accused individual even if the physical examination does not reveal any physical signs of sexual misconduct. If you are accused of sexual interference, you will likely be arrested after the “sex assault kit” is complete.
Getting Out on Bail: When Is It an Option?
Individuals facing sexual interference charges will be required to attend a formal bail hearing prior to being released from custody. Accused individuals who have prior criminal convictions may find it more difficult to be released on bail. Crown attorneys may petition the court to keep you in custody until the case is resolved.
An accused facing sexual interference charges who is released on bail will often be subject to restrictions that affect their daily life.
The Crown will typically conduct a formal bail hearing within twenty-four hours of an accused being arrested. It is possible that the Crown will require an additional three days to gather documents for the formal bail hearing. Having legal representation at this stage can help you avoid being detained for excessive periods of time.
How to Pay Bail
Those arrested on sexual interference charges are required to pay a deposit in cash if they are granted bail. Bail assures the police that if released, the accused will still appear in court on a specific date. The following elements may determine how much bail someone will have to pay:
- Prior criminal history
- Factors suggesting that an individual may not appear in court
- Factors suggesting an individual may be dangerous if released into the community
- The nature of the criminal charges
Family members or friends usually arrange the payment of bail for the person who was arrested. Once the bail amount is set, the payment can be made at the bail hearing office in any courthouse in Canada. Bail hearing offices are open twenty-four hours a day in major Canadian cities.
Are Release Conditions Negotiable?
Individuals released on bail who are facing sexual interference charges must adhere to the following restrictions:
- Not being permitted to travel
- Not being permitted to visit specific places
- Not being permitted to possess firearms or other weapons
- Not being permitted to use drugs or alcohol
- Avoiding all places where children may congregate
- Adhering to a strict curfew
- Not visiting the home of the individual who reported the alleged sexual interference
- Not having any interaction with the individual who reported the alleged sexual interference
It is important to follow all restriction orders carefully once you are released. Although you may want to change the conditions of your release, you need to be patient and wait before attempting to violate a restriction order. The conditions of your release must be followed until they can be changed.
A criminal defence lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the Crown attorney regarding changing the conditions of your release. Specific conditions may be eliminated or added together, and being patient while a criminal defence lawyer attempts to alter the conditions of your release will help you avoid becoming frustrated as your court date nears.
Penalties for Sexual Interference Charges
Individuals who are facing sexual interference charges must understand the nature of the severe penalties they face if they are convicted. Sexual interference charges come with mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment. The Crown can also use summary conviction or indictment in sexual interference cases, as sexual interference is a hybrid offence.
If a sexual interference charge is brought by summary conviction, the minimum term of imprisonment is ninety days, and can reach up to two years minus a day. If the Crown brings a sexual interference charge by indictment, the minimum term of imprisonment is one year, and the maximum term of imprisonment is fourteen years.
Individuals who are convicted of sexual interference often face the following penalties:
- Registering with the National Sex Offender Registry as required under the National Sex Offender Information Registry Act
- Being ordered to stay away from public parks, schoolhouses, pools, and other places where individuals younger than sixteen years old may congregate
- Being ordered to forfeit any weapons and being prohibited from owning any weapons
- Being ordered to provide a DNA sample to the national DNA databank
Registering as a sex offender means reporting the following information:
- Your job or profession
- The make and mode of the vehicle you use
- The address of your residence
- Any changes to your address
- Any changes to your employment
- Any international travel that lasts longer than seven days
The specific facts and circumstances of a particular sexual interference case will also affect the penalties ordered by the Crown. It is important for those accused of sexual interference to make sure they understand the substantive and procedural elements of sexual interference under Canadian law.