What happens if I am convicted of sexual exploitation?

Susan Karpa Criminal Lawyer in CalgaryIf you have been charged or are being investigated, hiring a Calgary sexual assault lawyer is important. I am available to discuss the defence strategy for addressing these charges, the potential consequences of a guilty plea, the specifics of a peace bond if it applies, and any other relevant aspects related to your case. Please reach out to us for a free consultation at 587-888-7149.

What happens if I am convicted of sexual exploitation?

If you are convicted of sexual exploitation, you will go to prison, either a provincial jail or a federal penitentiary. This is because sexual exploitation has a mandatory minimum sentence.

If you receive a prison sentence of less than two years, you will serve your sentence in a provincial jail, and you may receive a term of probation after your sentence, which will have certain conditions that you must follow. If you receive a prison sentence of two years or more, you will be imprisoned at a federal institution.

In addition to your prison sentence, you will be subject to court orders requiring you to provide your DNA information to be kept in a federal database, and you may be required to comply with the requirements of the Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA), and with other court orders, like an order to not have any weapons.

The length and conditions of your sentence will depend on the circumstances of the offence and offender (you), including aggravating and mitigating factors. Aggravating factors are circumstances that call for a higher sentence, such as a related criminal record. Mitigating factors are circumstances that call for a lower sentence, such as an early guilty plea.

One of the best predictors of the length of a sentence is whether the crown proceeded by summary or indictment, which has an impact on the mandatory minimum and maximum sentences allowed.

What is the mandatory minimum sentence for sexual exploitation?

Sexual Exploitation carries the following mandatory minimum and maximum sentences under the Criminal Code:

  • A minimum of one year to a maximum of 14 years of imprisonment on indictment.
  • A minimum of 90 days to a maximum of two years less a day on summary conviction.

The courts are not allowed to give sentences that are below the mandatory minimum or above the mandatory maximum, unless the defence can persuade the judge that the mandatory minimum sentence is unconstitutional in their client’s case and a lower sentence is fit and just.

As you may have noticed, there is a big difference between the maximum and minimum sentences on indictment and on summary conviction. This raises the question: What is the difference between the two?

What is the difference between indictable and summary offences?

All criminal offences in Canada are either summary offences, indictable offences, or hybrid offences. Most crimes are hybrid offences. If you are charged with a hybrid offence, the crown will choose (i.e., “elect”) to proceed by summary or not. If the crown does not elect, or elects by indictment, then you will be facing an indictable offence.

Most people will have heard of “felonies” and “misdemeanours.” These are United States criminal law terms; there are no felonies or misdemeanours in Canada. However, indictable offences are kind of like felonies, and summary offences are kind of like misdemeanours. This is because summary offences tend to be less serious and carry lighter sentences, and indictable offences tend to be more serious and carry longer sentences. For summary offence sentences, the maximum fine is $5000.00, and the maximum term of imprisonment is two years less a day. For indictable offences, you can face much larger fines, and receive a life prison sentence.

The Bottom Line

If you are convicted of sexual exploitation, you will be sentenced to a prison term – possibly a very long one. Sentences for sexual crimes against children have become much harsher since the 2020 Supreme Court of Canada decision R v Friesen, which instructed Canada’s sentencing judges that prison sentences for a number of years in the “high single digits to double digits” should be the norm.