Frequently Asked Questions
What if my Address was Linked to Child Pornography in London?
During an investigation, the police may find a residence where they suspect there is child pornography. It is common for multiple people to live in the same home, and potentially multiple devices that may or may not contain child pornography material. There is no way to differentiate between suspects and devices unless identifying information is found. Identifying information can be things such as a password, the device name, the device owner’s name, as well as any data stored on the device. Often, this information is not readily available at the scene.
In order to prove that someone was accessing or possessing child pornography, the Crown needs to prove beyond a doubt the device was used specifically to access and possess child pornography. Some evidence of who the device belongs to may be obtained through interrogation, forensic analysis, or other investigative techniques. The Crown must prove the identity, the jurisdiction, and the date of the offence in order to convict a person.
Will I be a Sex Offender if I am convicted?
Yes, people convicted of child pornography will be registered in accordance with the Sex Offender Information Registration Act (“SOIRA”). Child pornography is a primary designated offence listed under s. 490.013 of the Criminal Code, meaning that it is among one of the more serious crimes and mandatory for SOIRA registration. Those convicted will be registered as a sex offender. The length of registration depends on the frequency of the offence. A first-time offender may have SOIRA registration for ten years. Second and subsequent offences may result in a SOIRA registration order of twenty years and then life.
How long will I be a Sex Offender?
The Sex Offender Information Registration Act (“SOIRA”) was designed to help police in their investigations. By registering sexual offenders, the police can inculpate or eliminate various suspects with the help of the database. This database may overlap with the national DNA database. A convicted sex offender may also be subject to a DNA order.
SOIRA requires those registered to report when changing residences, report their identification, report the addresses of their place of work or study, report their telephone number, report their physical distinctions, as well as report their car information. They require this information to identify the registrant easily. A SOIRA order may last for life, depending on a number of factors and the offences the person is convicted of.
If any of the eligible offences have a maximum penalty of life the SOIRA order will remain in place for a lifetime. Additionally, previous history with SOIRA will result in a lifetime registration; and a previous conviction or a record of particular offences may result in a lifetime registration. If any of the offences have a maximum penalty of 10 or 14 years, the SOIRA order will remain in place for 20 years. Finally, the lowest duration of ten years is for offences with the low maximum penalties—either two to five years or a summary conviction offence.
What does it mean to be a Sex Offender?
The Sex Offender Information Registration Act (“SOIRA”) requires that the offender register with a government agency once a year. They require your information, such as where you live, work or study. A SOIRA registration will appear on every single background check, which may result in loss of employment or volunteer opportunities. Those registered under SOIRA also cannot work with vulnerable populations.
For example, a person who is registered with SOIRA cannot coach a children’s soccer team, even if they have an intimate relationship with the organization. However, SOIRA is not open to the public and SOIRA registrars do not have to notify neighbours of their registry.
Common Defences to Child Pornography
There are a few common defences for possessing, accessing, making, or distributing child pornography. One of which is examining the material and seeing if it meets the definition of child pornography. If the individuals depicted in the material are over the age of 18, the material is not child pornography. If the picture was for an innocent or an innocuous purpose, such as a picture of a child in a bath taken by a parent, it would not meet the definition of child pornography.
Another defence for possession or accessing child pornography would be the public good defence. This defence argues for the legitimate possession and access of child pornography for use by law enforcement. For example, a lawyer might be given child sexually exploitative material by the Crown as part of disclosure.
A defence similar to the public good defence would be the “innocent possession” defence. The innocent possession defence poses that the defendant possessed child pornography but intended to destroy it or surrender it to law enforcement.
The private use defence is designed for individuals under eighteen who may be in possession of their own nude photos or videos of themselves. The photo or video in question must be taken by the person in the image, and any sharing of the photo may result in a charge of distribution of child pornography. If the material does not depict illegal sexual activity, the minor is allowed to be in possession of it.