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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 is considered a sexual offence in Canada and those who are charged and convicted will face serious penalties. When an individual is originally charged with child luring, they will be placed on strict conditions following their release from custody. These conditions typically include a no contact prohibiting contact with the victim, an order restricting access to children including the accused’s own children in some cases, an order restricting or prohibiting access to the internet or possessing a device capable of accessing the internet. Upon conviction, these conditions may carry over, requiring the accused to abide by them for a period after their case has finished. Due to the serious implications of just being charged for child luring, it is important to consult with experienced counsel if you have been accused.

Donich Law has experience defending individuals who were found to be communicating with either a minor or an undercover officer posing as a minor online. Many of our clients were engaging with who they believed were underaged individuals on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Locanto, Kik, and Facebook. We have experience analyzing the forensic computer data collected from these websites and using this information to weaken the Crown’s case.

In addition to defending those who have been wrongfully accused, the Firm also regularly defends individuals caught in large, sophisticated police stings targeting online sexual offenders. In many cases, these charges are particularly difficult to defend given the forensic data that law enforcement are able to collect. Law enforcement agencies have developed sophisticated software to track down alleged sexual offenders online and in many cases, the accused individual will be on their radar for a significant period of time before a warrant is executed. This is because law enforcement may take their time collecting evidence to ensure they have enough to convict the individual, or in an attempt to uncover other sexual offenders online. In many cases, once the police execute a search warrant and search the accused’s devices, additional offences may be uncovered, and additional charges laid.

In 2021, the Firm defended an individual charged with several counts of child luring as well as making sexually explicit material available to a child in the case of R. v. P.E. [2021]. The client was arrested by law enforcement after engaging in a month’s long online relationship with an individual he believed was under the age of 16. In fact, the accused had been speaking with an undercover officer posing as a child. The parties engaged on online platforms for some time before exchanging numbers and communicating via text and phone. The accused sent photos of his genitals to the undercover and eventually discussed sexual activity and made plans to meet. After carefully analyzing the conversations between the parties, the Firm launched an entrapment defence, arguing that the undercover officer had entrapped the accused into committing child luring. The entrapment defence was successful and the luring charges against the accused were dropped.

In 2016, the Firm successfully defended a high-profile case of child luring and other sexual offences in the case of R. v. A.H. [2016]. The accused, a TTC driver, was charged after parents of a minor contacted police alleging that their child had made plans to meet with the adult accused. Given the accused’s position as a TTC driver, the case garnered media attention, with allegations that the accused was meeting underaged individuals while on the job. The young complainant hired counsel of their own after the charges were laid, insisting that nothing inappropriate had occurred. The Firm worked alongside the complainant’s counsel to present a united defence to the Crown, ultimately leading to the sex offence charges being withdrawn. The Firm was able to preserve the client’s job as well as his reputation within the community and resolved the case without a criminal record.

Online Sex Offence are on the Rise in Canada

In the 2022 case of R. v. T.T. [2022], the Firm represented an individual charged with various sexual offences involving children including child pornography offences and child luring. Police executed a warrant on the accused’s residence after his online activity was flagged and reported. Upon searching the devices seized from his residence, evidence of additional crimes was discovered, and additional charges were laid. The police alleged that the accused had been communicating with minors online for decades, posing as a young person to develop friendships with minors. In one case, he had developed a year’s long relationship with a young girl online who believed him to be the same age as her. Due to the prolonged nature of the offences and the number of charges, the Crown treated the accused as a dangerous offender and sought a significant period of custody on conviction. The Firm launched an 11(b) Charter challenge in the case after the Crown caused significant unreasonable delay. The challenge led to the majority of the charges being withdrawn, and the accused avoiding a significant period of time in prison.

Those convicted of child luring will face serious penalties including significant jail time and various ancillary orders. Ancillary orders will follow the individual for years or even decades into their future and are likely to impact employment and travel opportunities. If you have been charged with child luring or believe you may be charged with child luring it is important to consult with legal counsel as soon as possible to protect your rights.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What if Law Enforcement is Unable to Get into My Device?

The Ontario Provincial Police department have dedicated Internet Child Exploitation units that work closely with provincial and international organizations to catch online child predators. Police departments also have forensic experts dedicated to extracting information out of these devices. Typically, forensic experts and law enforcement are more willing to expend more resources to extract information from these devices to charge child sex-related offences due to the public interest in protecting children.

What Are the Other Negative Consequences Associated with Child Luring?

Incarceration is the most severe sentencing a court may enter. There is a mandatory minimum prison sentence for child luring. Based on a summary election, child luring may result in a mandatory minimum of 90 days incarceration. Based on an indictable election, child luring may result in a mandatory minimum of one year incarceration. The maximum penalty by summary election is 2 years less a day in prison. If the Crown elected to indict, the maximum penalty is 14 years’ incarceration. In addition to incarceration, a convict will receive a criminal record as well as ancillary orders.

A mandatory ancillary order for any sexual-related offence is a SOIRA registration. Under the Sexual Offender Information Registry Act, the offender must register their name, residence, place of work/school/volunteer, and vehicle with a registration centre. SOIRA helps law enforcement catch offenders by eliminating suspects.

In addition, child luring is a primary designated offence. Under s. 487.05(1) of the Criminal Code, if the offender commits a primary designated offence enumerated under section 487.04, they are subject to a DNA order. This means that their DNA will be taken and registered in the national database. This data would help police investigations in eliminating suspects.

There may be a section 161(1) order restricting the offender’s access to children. The offender may be banned from attending any communal area or public place where children are expected to be. They may be prohibited from being within a certain distance from the residence of the victim or another location. They cannot be employed or volunteer where they would be put into a position of trust, authority, or power over a child. They may be prohibited from even having contact with children without the supervision of someone the court considers appropriate.

Furthermore, an offender’s passport may be rescinded. Difficulties with travel may come with a criminal record. Those with a criminal record may also suffer from discrimination. They may have difficulty obtaining employment or volunteering with any vulnerable persons.

How do Police Find Child Lurers Online?

The police may employ a variety of investigative techniques to find child lurers online. Most local police departments have a dedicated Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit. These units often work with organizations such as Our Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP) National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre (NCECC). Computer forensic experts may be able to trace locations and access information from locked devices.

Operation Raphael was a multi-year investigation lasting from 2014 to 2017. Operation Raphael arrested more than 100 men in York Region that sought to buy sex from minors. Investigators posed as children online offering sexual services for money. It did not matter that the “minors” in question were actually law enforcement—the intent to purchase sex from a minor is enough for a charge.

Does it Matter Which Province I am Charged in?

No, the province in which the person is charged with the offence does not matter. The Criminal Code is a federal piece of legislation that applies equally to all provinces. It catalogues offences, describes defences, enumerates punishment and principles of punishment, and describes powers and procedures for the authorities. The penalties are the same for the same crime no matter the province. The real difference in each province are minor procedural differences. For example, when obtaining disclosure, the local Crown’s office may have their own method of providing disclosure.

What is Grooming? Is it a Criminal Offence?

Grooming is when an older person attempts to form a relationship with a child or a young person with an ulterior motive. Grooming itself is not defined as a criminal offence but can turn into criminal offence. Child luring and grooming are not mutually exclusive. If the grooming involved a telecommunication for the purpose of committing one of the enumerated offences under s. 172.1(1), then it constitutes as child luring.

For example, if an older person messages a younger person, and their conversations become sexual and eventually arrange to meet up, it is a case of child luring. Child luring has a mandatory minimum of 90 days incarceration if summarily elected, and one year incarceration if indicted.

Does the Age of the Child Matter?

Yes, the age of the child does matter. The age differential can be an aggravating factor during sentencing; the greater the differential, the longer the sentence.

Different provisions of the Criminal Code also differentiate different offences for different ages for child luring. The offences are different for each age group, and the younger the complainant, the more aggravating it is.

Section 172.1(1)(a) describes child luring under 18 years old, with the purposes of committing one of the offences of: sexual exploitation, incest, child pornography, parent or guardian procuring sexual activity, householder permitting prohibited sexual activity, trafficking and other related charges, commodification of sexual service offences, and procuring. Section 172.1(1)(b) describes child luring under 16 years old, with the purposes of committing one of the offences of: sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, bestiality, exposure, sexual assault and other related offences, or abduction. Section 172.1(1)(c) describes child luring under 14, with the ancillary offence being abduction.

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Recent Cases

R. v. Braithwaite, 2023 ONCA 180 

The appellant in the Ontario Court of Appeals case of R. v. Braithwaite was convicted of child luring. Seeking to appeal his conviction, he appeared before the court for trial. The appellant responded to an ad from a 19 year old girl, before she revealed she was 16. The appellant believed she was old enough to consent. It was revealed that the girl was an undercover police officer. When arriving at the agreed-upon meeting place, the appellant was charged and arrested.

The appellant defended himself by saying he was doing research for a book and was not attempting to obtain sexual services. He also testified that due to his erectile dysfunction, he could not have engaged in the discussed activities. The trial judge rejected this evidence, finding no air of reality to it. The trial judge also noted that there were many sexual activities that did not involve penetrative sex. The defence raised the issue of entrapment on appeal, and a new trial was ordered.

R. v. Fardshisheh, 2023 ONSC 1334

The accused in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice case of R. v. Fardshisheh was convicted of one count of procuring a person under the age of 18 to provide sexual services, one count of child luring, and one count of obtaining sexual services of a person under the age of 18.

The offender messaged the complainant on the social media app Instagram. She was 17-years-old and he clearly knew she was underage. The offender offered her money for sexual services. A victim impact statement was filed by the complainant. In addition to the ancillary orders of a SOIRA order, a DNA order, and a section 161 order, the offender was sentenced to 36 months in prison.

R. v. Cooper, 2023 ONSC 875

The accused pled guilty to ten counts in child-related sexual offences in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice case of R. v. Cooper. The accused used several social media platforms and accounts as well as false identities to distribute child pornography, make and obtain child pornography, and lured several young girls with the intention of committing offences related to sexual interference and child pornography.

One of the most significant aggravating factors the Court noted was the large age differential between the offender and the accused. The victims were as young as 13 years old while the offender was 39 years old. These offences were complex and required considerable planning and foresight. The addition of child pornography discovered on the accused’s devices was also a significant aggravating factor. As the offender did not have any insight into his crime and did not have a treatment plan for the future, the Court deemed denunciation and deterrence was the primary sentencing principle for the crime. The total sentence amounted to almost five years incarceration in addition to ancillary orders.

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.