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Defend Child LURING Charges

Crime Statistics

Child Luring charges are some of the most serious offences in Canada. As a general rule, the Crown is required to seek upper reformatory penitentiary time. Only in exceptional circumstances can courts deviate from this mandate. As technology has become more readily accessible, especially with young people, online sex offences against children have continued to rise.

Courts have been sending a strong message that anyone convicted of child luring will face significant custody and the sex offender registry. Statistics Canada collects data on the changing demographics associated with this offence.

Online Sex Offences between 2014 and 2020
Offences which were Child Luring
Incidents of Child Pornography
Recent Increase in Online Child Exploitation

Our Experience

Child luring occurs when an individual uses a telecommunication device to attempt to commit certain sexual offences involving a child. Typically, luring arises when an adult individual uses the internet to attempt to arrange to meet a young person for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity, or to facilitate some other sexual offence. Where the accused successfully meets with the young person, they are likely to be charged with other criminal offences in addition to child luring.

Luring is a very serious offence and those who are convicted are regularly sentenced to a period of custody. In many cases, offenders are sentenced to a significant period of custody. In addition to being sent to prison, those who are convicted will also be forced to register as a sex offender, potentially for life. Further, those charged with a child luring offence will likely have their access to children restricted, including in some cases, their own children. As a result of these very serious consequences, those charged with child luring, or who think they may be charged with child luring, should seek advice from legal counsel as soon as possible.

In 2022, the Guelph Police Service reported 512 incidents of cybercrime in comparison to 2021 at 516. The Guelph Police Service has a dedicated Internet Child Exploitation unit to catch criminals committing child-related offences on the internet. The ICE works closely with organizations such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP) National Child Exploitation Crime Centre (NCECC) to arrest local and provincial cases of child luring.

Donich Law has experience defending individuals charged with child luring offences involving real children. We have successfully defended individuals caught in complex police operations targeting online sex crimes like Project Raphael. The Firm regularly achieves favourable results for our clients by carefully analyzing data seized from accused’s electronic devices, as well as the investigative techniques used by law enforcement.

In 2022, the Firm represented an individual charged with more than ten sexual offences involving children including various child pornography offences and child luring in R. v. T.T. [2022]. The accused’s online activity was flagged by law enforcement after he allegedly engaged with child pornography material online, leading the police to secure a search warrant. They subsequently found evidence of the alleged offences on the accused’s computer and other electronic devices. Upon reviewing all the accused’s data, police alleged that the accused had been engaged with this type of material online for decades and had pretended to be a child online to lure other young people. The Firm launched an 11(b) Charter challenge due to significant Crown delay in the case, leading to almost all charges against the accused being withdrawn, and avoiding a double digit penitentiary sentence that was originally requested by the Crown.

Online Sex Offence are on the Rise in Canada

In 2016, the Firm represented a TTC driver charged with nine sexual offences involving children, including luring, in R. v. A.H. [2016]. The case garnered media attention after allegations came to light that the individual had been arranging to meet underaged individuals while on the job. Parents of one of the young people discovered their child’s plan to meet the adult driver and reported him to police, leading to the individual’s arrest. The Firm worked alongside counsel for the complainant, presented a united defence which weakened the Crown’s case. This led to the withdrawal of the sexual offences against the accused individual. The matter was resolved without a criminal record for the accused.

The Firm also has experience defending individuals charged with child luring after engaging with an undercover officer online. In the case of R. v. P.E. [2021], the Firm represented an individual charged with three counts of child luring and one count of making sexually explicit material available to a child after speaking with an undercover officer online for weeks. During their conversations, the undercover officer posed as a 14-year-old girl. The accused was alleged to have sent a photo of his genitals to the officer, and ultimately arranged to meet with her. After carefully reviewing the communications between the accused and undercover officer, the Firm launched an entrapment defence. The Firm was successful and resolved the matter with the withdrawal of the three luring charges.

If you have been charged with child luring or some other online sexual offence involving children, it is important to speak to legal counsel to better understand your rights and obligations under the law. Those convicted of these types of offences will face serious consequences that are likely to follow them well into their future.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What If I Never Asked for Their Age and It Never Came Up?

Child luring, strictly defined in the Criminal Code, is using telecommunication to facilitate the commission of an enumerated sexual offence. To prove a luring case, the Crown must prove three things. One, that the accused communicated with the person via a computer system. Two, that the person the accused was communicating with was under 18 or believed to be under 18. Three, the accused’s specific purpose in communicating with the person was to commit one of the enumerated offences.

The Crown must prove the accused was aware or wilfully blind to the complainant’s age. The accused must have taken reasonable steps to ascertain the true age of the complainant, otherwise they were being wilfully blind or reckless. Sometimes, a situation may happen where the minor in question lies about their age. The “reasonable person” standard applies here. If the accused mistakenly believed the complainant was of age and had taken reasonable and necessary steps to ascertain the age, the accused may be acquitted.

What If I was Speaking with Someone I Thought Was Over 18?

The mistaken belief of age is a full defence for the offence of child luring. In the event that the accused took reasonable steps to ascertain the true age of the complainant, the accused cannot be convicted of a crime. Reasonable steps are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If the accused was charged with luring and had a genuine mistaken belief in age, they may raise this defence in trial. During trial, the Court will consider several factors. Factors include but are not limited to: the knowledge of the person underage, the physical appearance, the age and appearance of the underage person’s associates, the age differential between the accused and the complainant, the demeanor of the complainant, the time and location of the alleged sexual offence, and any other relevant times or places.

What If I was Speaking with a Minor Online but the Conversations Were Not Sexual?

Speaking to a young person online is not an illegal activity if it is a regular conversation. However, the Code qualifies any telecommunication for the purpose of facilitating an enumerated offence as child luring. Making arrangements to meet qualifies “facilitating” for the purpose of this section. This means that if the accused discussed with the minor about meeting via telecommunication and committed an offence or intended to commit an offence during the meet, that is enough for a conviction.

If a person committed an offence after meeting a minor, they may be charged for child luring even if the conversations were not sexual. If the two end up having a sexual relationship of any kind, it constitutes child luring. Even if the sexual activity was “consensual”, children cannot consent, and the accused may be charged with multiple offences.

Will My Name Be in the Paper?

The publication of cases and names largely depends on the factors of the case. It depends on who the offender is and where the crime occurred. Smaller jurisdictions with less crime or a small police force may publish details of the offence. If the accused is a public figure, someone who works with children or anyone else known to the public, that may increase chances that the accused’s name will be published by the media.

If the accused was charged as part of a larger police operation, the accused’s name may be released to the public in the police press release. Project Raphael was a multi-year child sex trafficking investigation that led to the arrests of 104 men. Undercover police officers posed as child sex workers between the ages of 13-16 to catch offenders.

If I Am a Regulated Professional, How Will This Charge Affect Me?

A regulated professional is someone who is overseen by a College. This means they must abide by strict rules set out in various statutes. Many Colleges have regulations requiring their Member’s to self-report if they are charged of certain criminal offences. If a College does have a duty to report and the Member fails to do so, that could be prosecuted by the College for failing to report.

Colleges are independent organizations. They may start an investigation on their own. Colleges, however, differ from Courts in that their standard is a civil standard rather than beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that even if the Court finds the accused not guilty, if the accused does not meet the college’s standards, the accused’s license may be taken away or otherwise restricted. In this situation, the accused may have to find another line of work.

It is important for an accused to know their rights. During the bail hearing, the accused may apply for a section 517 publication ban, preventing their name from appearing in any publication until the Court has resolved their case. In addition, section 486.4(1) prohibits any information that could identify the victim of a sexual offence. If there are additional sexual offences other than child luring, a section 486.4(1) publication ban may be put into place.

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Recent Cases

R. v. West, 2023 ONSC 709

In the Ontario Superior Court of Justice case of R. v. West, the appellant was convicted of two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of child luring. He appealed the conviction. The appellant had met the complainant on a website and paid her to send nudes. The complainant said she was 18 years old but was 16 when she met the appellant. The complainant’s sister found out about the relationship and told the appellant the complainant was underage; the complainant told the appellant that the sister was lying to him, and that she was 18 years old. After a brief pause, the two resumed their relationship, and there was no further effort to confirm the complainant’s age.

The appellant submitted that the trial judge misapplied the “reasonable steps” threshold. He argued that since he asked the complainant about her age, he met the reasonable steps threshold. The Court disagreed, as young people often lie about their age, merely asking the complainant her age was not enough to meet the reasonable threshold. It was found that the appellant took minimal steps to confirm the age; the complainant’s sister made it clear that the complainant was underage; and the appellant only asked the complainant, who was untrustworthy, about her age. The appeal was dismissed. The appellant was sentenced to 18 months incarceration followed by 2 years’ probation.

R. v. Ritchie, 2023 ONCA 53

In the Ontario Court of Appeal case of R. v. Ritchie, the appellant was convicted of section 172.1(1)(b) luring a child under 16 and section 286.1(2) communicating with a person for the purpose of obtaining the sexual services of a minor. Project Raphael was a large undercover police operation to catch child-related sexual offences. A detective posed as a 14-year-old girl online and exchanged text messages with a person. The texter was informed that he was interacting with an underage girl. The texter and the “minor” agreed to meet at the Springhill Suites to have sex for $80. The location was later changed to room 220 at the Homewood Suites. The appellant was arrested with $80 cash and two condoms.

The appellant appeals his conviction, saying that the trial judge erred in not accepting his evidence. The appellant had denied he was the texter, and alleged it had been used by a stranger, Shawn. The appellant had testified that he had given Shawn a ride, and Shawn had downloaded a texting app to communicate with the complainant. The appellant dropped off Shawn at the Springhill Suites, entered the Homewood Suites by accident, and went to room 220 to return two condoms Shawn left in the car. This evidence was supported by a colleague, Dr. Analisa Enrile. The trial judge found the appellant’s evidence unbelievable, and that remaining evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant was the texter. The appeal was dismissed. The sentence of 16 months incarceration, with 2 years’ probation and several ancillary orders, was restored.

R. v. S.R., 2023 ONCA 35

In the Ontario Court of Appeals case of R. v. S.R., the appellant appealed a conviction of child luring. The appellant was exchanging explicit sexual messages, photos, videos, and video-chats with the complainant beginning when she was 14 years old. The communications lasted for two years. It was required of the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant knew the complainant’s age.

The trial judge rejected the appellant’s evidence and claim that the complainant never told him her true age. The complainant had told the appellant she was 14 years old, and the Crown had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant knew of this information during the luring. The appeal was dismissed, and the sentence restored.

About the Author

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Jordan Donich

Jordan Donich has been a Lawyer for over 10 years and is a trusted legal analyst by Canadian Media. He is as a leader in Canada’s tech sector for lawyers and developer of Law Newbie. Jordan is a Black Belt with the Japan Karate Association and trained in Krav Maga. He won a Gold Medal at 2004 Canadian National Championships and was published in the National Newspaper Awards.

Jordan has been featured in Forbes and is a member of DMZ Angels in Toronto.