Child-Related Sexual Offences Subject to a Mandatory Minimum Penalty
Research and Statistics Division
This fact sheet presents information on criminal court cases where the most serious offence in the case is a child-related sexual offence subject to a mandatory minimum penalty. Data was obtained through a request to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) and covers the period between 2000/2001 and 2013/2014. The legislation related to the child sexual offences subject to an MMP include: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act (2005), the Tackling Violent Crime Act (2008), and the Safe Streets and Communities Act (2012). Most mandatory minimums for the child-related sexual offences were set in the 2005 legislative enactment, with amendments being made in 2008 and 2012.
The number of casesNote de bas de la page 1 with a child-related sexual offence as the most serious offence in the case increased
Between 2011/2012 and 2013/2014, the number of cases with a sexual offence against a child subject to an MMP increased 71% from 1,412 to 2,410. This coincides with the enactment of the Safe Streets and Communities Act in 2012. Prior to that, between 2000/2001 and 2011/2012, the number of cases increased by 38% from 1,024 to 1,412.Over the 14 year period, cases with a child-related sexual offence comprised half (50%) of all cases with an MMP offence. However, this percentage increased significantly around the time of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (2012) from 47% in 2011/2012 to 60% in 2012/2013 and then to 64% in 2013/2014.
Four offences comprise the majority of all cases with a child-related sexual offence
Although there were ten child-related sexual offences included in the dataset, four offences made up the majority (93%) of cases. These offences were s. 151– sexual interference with a person under 16 (52%), s. 163.1(2)(3)(4)(4.1) – various child pornography offences (21%), s. 152 – invitation to sexual touching (11%) and s. 153 – sexual exploitation of a young person (9%).
The proportion of cases with a guilty decision decreased
Concurrent to the increase in child-related sexual offence cases between 2011/2012 and 2013/2014, there was a corresponding decrease in the proportion of cases with a guilty decision, from 75% (2011/2012) to 57% (2012/2013) and 59% in 2013/2014. The proportion of cases that were withdrawn, acquitted and stayed increased as guilty cases decreased. Withdrawn decisions, specifically, increased from 12% in 2011/2012 to 23% in 2012/2013 (and saw a small drop in 2013/2014 to 20%).
The proportion of cases with a guilty decision receiving a custody sentence increased
After the enactment of the Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act in 2005, the proportion of guilty cases sentenced to custody increased from 39% in 2003/2004 (just prior to enactment) to around the 90% mark from 2009/2010 onwards. Since offences punishable by an MMP are not eligible for conditional sentences, the 2005 legislation which set MMPs for most child-related sexual offences may partially explain the increase in custody sentences after this time.
The length of custody sentences decreased
Custody sentence lengths between 2000/2001 and 2005/2006 hovered between 240 and 270 days. Following the enactment of the Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act (2005), the median custodial sentence length dropped from a high of 270 days in 2005/2006 to a low of 120 days in 2010/2011, a decrease of 56%. The final three fiscal years had higher median custodial sentence lengths of 180 days, a 50% increase after the enactment of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (2012), though still 33% lower than the highest median custodial sentence length (270 days).
The ranges of custodial sentence lengths are variable over the 14 year period, but there is a general trend towards a higher proportion of cases receiving shorter sentences. In 2000/2001, over one-third of cases (35%) had custody lengths between 6 months and 1 year, with the next highest proportion (20%) having custodial sentence lengths between 1 and 2 years. In 2013/2014, custodial sentence lengths between 6 months and 1 year fell to 22% of cases while sentence lengths of 1 to 2 years stayed about the same (19%). The highest proportion of cases in 2013/2014 fell within the 3 to 6 month range (90 to 179 days; 24%). This range comprised only 18% in 2000/2001, and fell to a low of 15% as late as 2006/2007. The majority of sentences (64%) fell between 3 months (90 days) and 2 years over the 14 year period (See Chart below).
Time to case resolution has increased
The median case processing time (how long it takes for a case to be resolved) has been steadily increasing since 2000/2001; however the increase is not as pronounced as that seen with the firearms offences (a 103% increase over the 14 years). From 2000/2001 to 2013/2014, time to case resolution increased from 243 days to 353 days, a 45% increase. Around the time of the enactment of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (2012), the time to case resolution increased to 361 days (2012/2013), a 49% increase from 2000/2001 (and 9% increase from the year prior to enactment) and the longest case time in the 14 year period. In comparison, the time to case resolution for all adult criminal court cases was 123 days in 2013/2014, which has remained stable since 2005/2006 (the earliest publicly available data) when the median was 124 days.Note de bas de la page 2
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