Sexual interference is a very serious sexual offence that carries significant social consequences and criminal penalties on conviction. An allegation of sexual interference can destroy family relationships, as in many sexual interference cases the accused and complainant are relatives or close family friends. The Children’s Aid Society often gets involved in sexual interference cases where the accused has child(ren) of their own. The CAS may stop the accused from having contact with any children, including the accused’s own children once allegations of sexual interference are made. Where there are children living in the accused’s home, the accused may have to find somewhere else to live and will almost always face specific prohibition orders restricting contact with children. Given the sensitive nature of these charges, its important to  get a publication ban quickly.

To diminish potential consequences, it is important to retain experienced counsel as soon as possible. Donich Law has dedicated much of our practice to successfully defending clients charged with sexual interference and other sexual offences and we have assisted first-time offenders, clients accused of historical sexual offences, and clients who have been wrongfully accused of sexual interference. Our Firm can guide you through the investigation, arrest, and court proceedings, to ensure that the resulting consequences are minimized as much as possible.

In the 2010 case of R. v. A.E. [2010], Donich Law defended a resident of Perth, Ontario, charged with sexual assault, sexual interference, and invitation to sexual touching that had allegedly occurred in 1985. The Firm managed to prove that these allegations were false, and all charges were withdrawn.

In the 2018 case of R. v. Z.C. [2018], Donich Law proved that 11 counts of sexual interference and sexual assault stemmed from false allegations made by a family member, and successfully negotiated for the withdrawal of these charges.

In R. v. D.D. [2018], Donich Law defended a client charged with sexual interference, sexual assault and invitation to sexual touching that allegedly occurred over two decades prior. As the client was a minor when these offences occurred, the trial was held in youth court despite him being an adult at the time of trial. At trial, counsel secured an acquittal on all charges.

In 2017, the Firm managed to have historical sexual assault and sexual interference charges stemming from alleged incidents in 1977 withdrawn after three years of litigation.

In 2016, Donich Law defended a TTC driver charged with nine sexual offences, including child sexual offences, and had all nine charges withdrawn.

In the 2015 case of R. v. K.C. [2015], Donich Law had two sexual assault charges withdrawn by proving the complainant had lied about the allegations.

Aside from defending high-profile sexual interference and sexual assault cases, counsel at Donich Law are also regularly consulted by the media to speak on sexual interference and sexual assault cases in Toronto. Counsel at Donich Law also have experience communicating with Children’s Aid. Click here to know more about defending sexual interference.

Click here for more information on defending sexual assault allegations including common defences and the law of consent in Canada or here if you have been falsely accused. Click here for more information on new changes to child sex offence sentencing.

Having a complete understanding of the Elements of the Criminal Offence, Your Rights and the Consequences associated with a Criminal Record is necessary before any legal decisions are made.

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Legal Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There a Limitation Period For Sexual Interference?
Will CAS get Involved if I am Charged with Sexual Interference?
How do I Beat a Sexual Interference Charge?
What are Some Charter Challenges to a Sexual Interference Charge?
-Section 8
-Section 11(b)

Additional Resources

Assaulting a Peace Officer
Sexual Assault Law in Canada
Consequences of a Criminal Record
Domestic Abuse
First Offenders
Immigration Consequences
Keeping Charges Private
Travel & US Waivers
Vulnerable Sector Screening
Elements of a Crime
Your Rights

Is There a Limitation Period for Sexual Interference?

As sexual interference is a hybrid offence, it can be prosecuted by indictment or summarily. The Criminal Code asserts that an individual cannot be charged with a summary offence more than 12 months after the incidents that form the offence have occurred. However, the Code does not impose any such time limitation on the laying of charges for indictable offences. This means a complainant can report an instance of sexual interference decades after it occurs, and the accused can still be changed.

Sexual interference is often committed by relatives of the complainant or close family friends, and children can have trouble understanding what is occurring or that it is wrong. Many children only realize the severity of what has occurred years later, well into their teenage or adult years, and will only then speak to authorities about it. This means that it is actually quite common for individuals to be charged with sexual interference many years after the alleged incident.

Donich Law has experience defending individuals who have been arrested for historical sexual assault and can help minimize the consequences of these charges.

Will CAS Get Involved if I am Charged with Sexual Interference?

As sexual interference is a sexual offence against children, the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) may become involved and conduct their own investigation into the matter. Where the complainant is the accused’s child or dependant, CAS’ investigation could lead to the accused losing access to or custody of the complainant and any other children they have. Where the accused works with children, as a teacher or coach, for example, CAS will likely question these children to ensure no improper conduct has occurred between them and the accused as well.

Counsel at Donich Law has experience speaking to CAS and negotiating custody issues stemming from sexual interference charges. If you are worried about the consequences of a CAS investigation resulting from your sexual interference charges, counsel can help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

How do I Beat a Sexual Interference Charge?

There are three common defences available to those charged with sexual interference in Mississauga and Oakville. The first is to argue that the allegations are false, the second is to argue a lack of intent, and the third is to argue an honest but mistaken belief in the complainant’s age and consent.

Sometimes, people are wrongfully accused of sexual interference. When this happens, the Crown will be forced to base their case on the complainant’s statements alone. In these situations, it can be helpful for the accused to present evidence to show the allegations are false, to explain why the complainant could be fabricating these allegations, or to attack the credibility of the complainant.

Sometimes, an accused can argue that they did not have the requisite intent to commit sexual interference. If the accused touched the minor for a purpose that was not sexual then the accused lacked the intent to be guilty of sexual interference. For example, a parent who touches their child’s genitals while changing that child’s diaper or to conduct a medical exam is not doing so for a sexual purpose and would not be guilty of sexual interference.

Sometimes, an accused could argue that they honestly but mistakenly believed the complainant was 16 or older when the sexual activity occurred. The age of consent in Canada is 16. To successfully use this defence, the accused must prove that they were not reckless or willfully blind to the complainant’s true age but that they took reasonable steps to ascertain the complainant’s true age before engaging in any sexual activity. This defence will succeed where the minor took elaborate steps to hide their true age or appear older.

If you have been charged with sexual interference, Donich Law can help you develop a defence best suited to your circumstances.

What are Some Charter Challenges to a Sexual Interference Charge?

Section 8 of the Charter

A Charter challenge can be brought where the accused’s rights have been violated by police or other government actors or representatives during the investigation and prosecution of their sexual interference case. Where a Charter Challenge is successfully brought, charges can be stayed by the Court or withdrawn by the Crown regardless of their severity. Two of the many Charter challenges available in sexual interference cases relate to sections 8 and 11(b) of the Charter.

Where the accused has had their electronics seized and searched unlawfully, they will be able to bring a section 8 Charter challenge. Many people remain unaware that although police are permitted to seize electronics upon arrest or with a search warrant, to search through these electronics, police are required to obtain specific permission to do so beforehand. In other words, a general search warrant to search someone’s home must include permission to search through the person’s electronics or the police will need to obtain a separate warrant permitting them to do so.

Where successful, these challenges can result in any evidence illegally found being inadmissible at trial and could lead to the charges being dropped due to a lack of evidence. It could also result in an acquittal for the accused due to the Crown’s inability to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Section 11(b) of the Charter

Where the state is causing there to be an unreasonable delay in bringing an accused to trial, the accused can bring a section 11(b) Charter challenge. For this challenge to be brought successfully, the accused’s case must have taken or be on track to take at least 18 months in the Ontario Court of Justice and 32 months in the Superior Court of Justice, from the time the charges are formally laid to the time the accused is brought to trial, and the Crown or the Court must have been responsible for the delays. Significant delays can be caused in sexual interference cases due to the Crown being slow to provide full disclosure or to schedule times to meet and negotiate.

Quick Facts

What is Sexual Interference?

A person commits the offence of sexual interference when they use an object or a part of their body to touch someone under the age of 16, or someone they believe is under the age of 16, to receive sexual gratification.

What is the Difference Between Sexual Interference and Sexual Assault?

The main difference between sexual assault and sexual interference is that sexual interference charges are laid when the complainant is under the age of 16, while sexual assault charges can be laid no matter the complainant’s age. Where the case involves a complainant under the age of 16, the accused could be charged with both sexual interference and sexual assault.

What if the Complainant Lied About Their Age?

An accused cannot simply say they believed that the complainant was of age to avoid a conviction for sexual interference. The accused must also have taken reasonable steps to ascertain the complainant’s age. However, where the complainant presented the accused with lots of evidence to convince them they were over the age of consent, the accused will have a strong defence to a sexual interference charge.

What if the Complainant Initiated the Sexual Activity?

Regardless of whether the complainant initiated the sexual activity or consented to it, if the complainant is under the age of 16, then under Canadian law, they are incapable of providing valid consent to engage in sexual activity with an adult. To put it plainly, an adult who engages in any type of sexual activity with a minor under the age of consent has committed a criminal offence.

Is there a Time Limit for When Sexual Interference Can be Reported?

There is no time limit for when a complainant can report an instance of sexual interference. Many complainants need time to process and speak out about instances of sexual abuse, especially when the incidents occurred during their childhood or involved their family members or close family friends. As such, it is possible to be charged years or even decades after the alleged incident occurred.

Will I be Able to See my Children if Convicted of Sexual Interference?

Those charged with sexual interference and released from custody pending the resolution of their charges will be subject to conditions requiring that they stay away from children. If the accused has a child of their own, the issue of contact will be evaluated and determined during the accused’s bail hearing.

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