From until recently, the age at which a youth could consent to nonexploitative sexual activity was 14 years 1. With the recent change to the criminal code of Canada, the age of consent for nonexploitative sexual activity is now 16 years. Nonexploitative activity is defined as sexual activity that does not involve prostitution or pornography, and where there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency between the persons involved 1. A coach, spiritual leader, teacher, school principal, guidance counsellor or family member are all examples of persons in a position of trust or authority with youth.
For exploitative sexual activity prostitution or pornography, or where there is a relationship of trust, authority or dependency , the age of consent is 18 years. The spirit of the new legislation is not to regulate consensual teenage sexual activity.
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To this effect, there are a few notable exceptions to the law:. Children younger than 12 years of age can never consent to sexual activity with anyone, of any age, regardless of whether they say they do. As before, all nonconsensual sexual activity, regardless of age, constitutes a sexual assault.
Exploitative sexual activity, sexual assault or sexual activity with anyone younger than 12 years of age or between 12 and 16 years of age, except as above, should raise child protection concerns. All Canadian provinces and territories have child protection legislation with mandatory reporting laws for suspected cases of child maltreatment.
It is important for physicians counselling sexually active youth to enquire about consent and the age of their partner. As always, as a means to safeguard the trust relationship that exists between physician and patient, it is advisable for physicians to discuss the limits of confidentiality with all their young patients before entering into such conversations. As the new legislation gets implemented, child welfare agency responses to such concerns may differ from province to province.
Any physician experiencing doubt about whether a situation constitutes maltreatment or whether it is reportable to child welfare authorities, should err on the side of caution and contact their local child welfare agency to discuss the matter further. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.
What if I agree to the sexual activity at first, and then I change my mind? Once you show that you no longer agree to the sexual activity, there is no longer consent. Your consent must be ongoing. In other words, you can take back your consent. Also, consenting to one kind of sexual activity does not mean you consent to any other sexual activity.
Can a person say that I consented if I was drunk? If you are drinking or high on drugs and unable to make a decision, the law does not consider that you consented. You must be conscious to give consent. If the person honestly and reasonably believed he or she had your consent to sexual activity, it may be a defence. However, a person cannot use this defence if:. The police can charge anyone who forces sexual activity on you with sexual assault. It does not matter if the person is your spouse, your common law partner or your date. What if I agreed to see someone that I met online?
Just because you agreed to meet someone, does not mean that you consented to sexual activity. Assault is the intentional use of force against somebody without his or her consent. Trying to use force or threatening to use force may also be assault. Touching, slapping, punching, kicking or pushing are examples of assault.
Ontario Women’s Justice Network
Sexual assault is any kind of assault that is of a sexual nature. Are there different kinds of sexual assault offences? Sexual offences apply to different types of sexual contact, not just rape. The difference between offences depends on the nature of the assault and how much force the person uses. The law recognizes a range of offences and punishments.
Invitation to sexual touching is inviting a child under the age of 16 to touch directly or indirectly, the body of any other person. Sexual interference is touching a child under the age of 16, whether directly or indirectly, for a sexual purpose. Luring a child is communicating with a young person using a computer in order to arrange or commit certain sexual offences.
Voyeurism is the secret observation by any means or recording of any person for a sexual purpose, in circumstances where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
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The law considers it to be sexual exploitation for anyone in a position of trust or authority over a young person, to engage in sexual activity with them. This includes a person on whom the young person is dependent. A young person is a person 16 years of age or more, but under 18 years. The courts would determine exploitation by the wrongful conduct of the person in the position of trust rather than the consent of the young person.
The law also provides for the protection of persons with mental or physical disabilities without any age restrictions. The courts would determine exploitation by the wrongful conduct of the exploiter rather than the consent of the young person. Publication of Intimate Images without Consent: An intimate image is a picture or video of a person who is nude, partially nude, or engaged in sexual activity.
The photos can be of a child or an adult. Even if the individual consented to the pictures or videos, it is an offence to distribute them if the individual had a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time they were taken. If the person who sexually assaulted me is charged, will I have to go to court? A preliminary hearing is a hearing where a judge decides whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial. If the case goes to trial, the Crown prosecutor can call you as a witness to testify, even against your partner or spouse.
Can I get help and support if I go to Court? Victim Services Coordinators can explain the court process to you and help you understand what will happen in court. Contact the provincial Victim Services Office nearest you. They can tell you about the special supports and assistance to help victims of sexual offences when they testify.
They will also tell you about other services and programs for victims such as counseling and crime compensation. Can the defence lawyer get copies of my counseling or medical records and ask me questions? Only if the judge decides this information has something to do with the case.
A judge would hold hearings to decide whether the defence lawyer can have the records. The Crown prosecutor and the Victim Services Coordinator will explain the process to you. Can the defence lawyer use my past sexual activities to suggest that I consented this time? Your past sexual activities with anyone other than the accused would not be considered relevant to the issue of consent for this particular offence.
The defence lawyer cannot use evidence about your past sexual activities to show:. Usually the trial is open to the public but you have a right to keep your identity protected. This is called a publication ban.
Victim Services will explain the various protections that may be available. What happens when a person is found guilty? Usually the judge will not sentence the offender immediately. The judge will set a date for sentencing and may ask for a pre-sentence report on the offender. The pre-sentence report is done by a probation officer.
Age of consent for sexual activity in Canada
Can victims tell the Court how the crime has affected them? Yes, victims have the right to make a written Victim Impact Statement which can be filed with the court when the accused has been found guilty. See the pamphlet Victim Impact Statements. The judge must consider your statement, among other things, in deciding on the sentence. If you wish, you can ask to read your statement aloud at the sentencing hearing. What type of sentence might an offender get? The punishments for sexual assault and sexual offences may range from a fine, to life in prison.
The judge can also give a suspended sentence or probation.