JustFacts

Child-Related Sexual Offences Subject to a Mandatory Minimum Penalty

December 2016

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 The proportion of cases that were withdrawn, acquitted and stayed increased as guilty cases decreased.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).

Percentage of all cases with a child-related sexual offence subject to an MMP as the most serious offence in the case, by custody range.

Note: The vertical lines indicate the years the Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act (2005) and the Safe Streets and Communities Act (2012) were enacted.

Text version: Percentage of all cases with a child-related sexual offence subject to an MMP as the most serious offence in the case, by custody range

A horizontal time-series chart illustrates custodial sentence ranges for criminal court cases in which the most serious offence in the case was a child-related sexual offence subject to a mandatory minimum penalty, and for which the offender received a custody sentence. The Y axis is measured in percentage of cases and increases in increments of 5 from zero to 40%. The X axis lists every fiscal year from 2000/2001 to 2013/2014.

There are 8 custody ranges that run along the X axis. They are; 0 to 29 days, 30 to 59 days, 60 to 89 days, 90 to 179 days, 180 to 364 days, 365 to 729 days, 730 to 1,459 days and 1,460 days and above. The range with the highest percentage of cases over time is the 180 to 364 day range, though this decreases over time from 35% of cases in 2000/2001 to 22% of cases in 2013/2014. The custody range with the fewest proportion of cases is the 1,460 day range, which remains below 5% over the 14 year period.

There are coloured vertical lines on the chart that indicate the years legislation related to MMPs were enacted. An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act (2005) is represented by a grey line at fiscal year 2005/2006 and the Safe Streets and Communities Act (2012) is represented by a red line at fiscal year 2012/2013.

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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