With the invention of the internet, the definition of the term “sex crimes” has broadened to include many online activities, and identifying it isn’t always necessarily obvious.
For example, one might not think that paying a consenting adult for sexual services over the internet is illegal in Canada. But it is.
Sicotte & Sandhu will clarify.
Internet Sex Crimes
An internet sex crime consists of using the internet either to possess or distribute any type of sexual content that involves minors, and to communicate with minors or adults regarding those sexual activities.
Content is defined by any type of visual, written, or auditory representation. Online sexual activity can consist of sexting, child pornography, and online solicitation. In Canada, a minor is anyone under the age of 18 years old.
Surprisingly, sexting does not only mean sending sexual messages, images, and videos via text. Sexting consists of sending this type of content by any technological means:
- Cell phones
- Internet (e.g., social media direct messaging)
Today, children are introduced to technology and given the responsibility of having a cellphone at very early ages. It is commonly assumed that those minors can send their partners suggestive images of themselves.
However, both the sender and receiver can be charged for an online sex crime if they are under 18, according to Canadian law. It can be categorized as child pornography.
The internet has provided easier accessibility to child pornography, which is any depiction, be it a living person, drawing, or computer animation, of a minor involved in sexual activities.
According to the Criminal Code of Canada, you are guilty of an indictable offence if you have any involvement with child pornography, such as:
- Creating it
- Making it available
- Distributing it
- Selling it
- Advertising it
- Printing it
- Publishing it
- Transmitting it
- Importing or exporting it
- Possessing it
It is also an indictable offence if you possess child pornography with the intention of transmitting, making it available, distributing, advertising, selling, importing, or exporting it. The punishment is up to a maximum of 14 years of imprisonment.
Possession of child pornography carries a potential maximum penalty of 10 years of imprisonment if prosecuted as an indictable offence and 6 months to 2 years less a day if prosecuted as a summary conviction.
There are some defences that can be used in this type of case. The person being charged may have been the victim of a malware attack that downloaded or transferred images of child pornography to the defendant’s personal device, such as a laptop or tablet.
Another defence can call into question the type of content involved in the case. The sexually explicit content may have been made for or used for artistic purposes rather than sexual gratification.
Moreover, the content may be unclear about the age of the individuals it depicts. If that is the case, the question becomes whether the accused individual did their due diligence and reasonably believed that the age of those individuals depicted were over 18.
Often the police will request a search warrant and seize large amounts of computers and other electronic devices. If the seizure of these items was from a shared residence, the Crown may not be able to prove who had access to that computer and therefore who had possession or who was distributing the material.
The law of internet sex crimes is complex and each case requires a high amount of interpretation and analysis. Don’t go it alone. Seek legal counsel from a Sicotte & Sandhu sex crimes lawyer.
B.C.’s Trusted Sexual Assault Lawyers
In addition to imprisonment, being convicted of an internet sex crime carries long-term effects, such as having to register as a sex offender.
Our team of experts are thorough in every case we take and fight hard to protect the rights of our clients. Whether you’ve been charged for sexual abuse or an internet sex crime, Sicotte and Sandhu are experienced lawyers who will help you through this difficult time, providing the legal advice you need to win your case.
Contact us today for a free consultation.