Understanding Child Pornography Offences in Canada: A Legal Overview

In the digital age, the proliferation of internet use has unfortunately led to an increase in crimes related to child pornography. Understanding the complexities and legal implications of these offences is crucial for both the public and individuals facing charges. In Canada, offences related to child pornography are outlined in Part V of the Criminal Code, dealing with “Sexual Offences, Public Morals, and Disorderly Conduct.” 

What is Child Pornography?

Under section 163.1 of the Canada Criminal Code, child pornography is defined broadly to encompass a variety of materials that exploit children under 18 years of age. These include:

  • Visual representations showing a person under 18 engaged in explicit sexual activity or depicting their sexual organs or anal region for a sexual purpose.
  • Written material, visual representation, or audio recording that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under 18.
  • Material whose dominant characteristic is the description, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under 18.

Have you been charged with an offence related to child pornography? Call (306) 994-9522 to receive a free consultation.

The Four Types of Child Pornography Offences

There are various offences to prosecute those who make, distribute and view child pornography that all fall under s.163 of the Criminal Code

Making Child Pornography

According to s. 163.1(2) of the Criminal Code, making child pornography includes creating, filming, or photographing content that exploits children sexually.

Distribution of Child Pornography

Under s. 163.1(3) of the Criminal Code, distribution encompasses transmitting, making available, distributing, selling, advertising, importing, exporting, or possessing for the purpose of any of these actions.

Possession of Child Pornography

Section 163.1(4) of the Criminal Code defines possession of child pornography as the act of knowingly having control over child pornography materials. This offence acknowledges both actual possession (physically having the material) and constructive possession (having control over the place where the material is found).

Accessing Child Pornography

Section 163.1(4.1) states that accessing child pornography involves knowingly viewing or downloading content. Conviction under this offence requires proof that the accused intentionally accessed child pornography, considering both indictable and summary conviction routes.

Are you facing child pornography charges? Dial (306) 994-9522 for a free consultation.

What is Needed to Convict

To secure a conviction for a child pornography offence, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused knowingly committed one of the defined offences. The intent to profit from these crimes is considered an aggravating factor, potentially leading to harsher sentences.

Child Pornography: Available Defences

Canadian law provides specific defences for those charged with child pornography offences. These include:

  • Belief in Age: It is not a defence to claim belief in the age of the person being over 18 unless all reasonable steps were taken to ascertain their actual age.

Legitimate Purpose: Actions that have a legitimate purpose related to administration of justice, science, medicine, education, or art, and do not pose an undue risk of harm to persons under 18, may be considered a defence.

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