What is Child Luring?

Few crimes stigmatize a defendant as much as allegations of sexual exploitation of a child.

Child Luring involves the sexual exploitation of a minor over the Internet and it is considered a serious crime in Canada.

The ability to track individuals attempting to lure minors through social media and other online platforms is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Considerable law enforcement resources are now plowed into catching those who exploit children online for sexual purposes and the number of prosecuted cases is increasing.

What is Child Luring?

Here’s what you need to know about this offence:

What is luring a child?

Luring a child is a crime covered in the Criminal Code s.172.1. It is similar to the crime of “child enticement” in the U.S.

Luring a child is contacting or attempting to contact someone who you know is a minor online with the intent to commit sexual exploitation, child pornography, sexual assault or incest.

You can also be charged with luring a child if you communicate with a person that you know to be under the age of 16 with the intent to commit:

  • Sexual exploitation
  • Invitation to sexual touching
  • Indecent exposure
  • Abduction

Separate subsections in the criminal code deal with luring minor children under the age of 18, under 16 and under 14 years of age.

Of over 10,000 incidents of online sexual offences against children between 2014 and 2020 in Canada, luring a child accounted for the large majority (77 percent).

Some typical examples of this offence include:

  • Asking a minor to take and send sexual pictures or videos
  • Sending minors sexually explicit photos/videos and requesting sexual images in return
  • Grooming behaviors that win the child’s trust
  • Creating fake online/social media profiles with the intent to communicate with minors
  • Arranging to meet a minor in person

What are the penalties for luring a child?

A conviction for luring a child comes with harsh penalties — but how harsh depends on whether the case proceeds summarily or as an indictment (it is a “hybrid” offence that can be prosecuted using either way).

There are no mandatory minimum sentences currently associated with this crime in Alberta but an indictable offence can lead to a prison term of one to 10 years, while a summary conviction can result in 90 days up to 18 months in prison.

Other punishments may include ancillary orders to provide DNA for addition to the national database, compliance with the Sex Offender Information Registration Act or the forfeiture of computer equipment.

The actual penalties faced will depend on the circumstances of the case (most notably the age difference between the defendant and the victim) and how well the charges are defended. A seasoned criminal defence lawyer with experience in such cases can often make it very difficult for the prosecution to secure a conviction.

For youthful offenders, those close in age to the complainant or if entrapment was used by undercover police officers, the consequences can also often be mitigated with strong legal representation.

Besides the immediate penalties faced, the stigma associated with a charge and conviction for luring a child can last a long time and, combined with a lifelong criminal record, impact future relationships, employment, education, travel and immigration status.

Aggravating factors

In some cases, the likelihood of facing harsher penalties increases. Typically, this is when one or more of the following aggravating factors are present:

  • The age or imitated age of the complainant is particularly low
  • Explicit sexual images have been sent to the victim
  • Considerable “grooming” behavior occurred
  • Communications happened over a long period
  • A meeting was arranged or attempted with the victim
  • A sexual assault or attempted sexual assault occurred
  • Child pornography was produced

Conditional sentence and probation

In rare cases with the offence of luring a child, offenders may be eligible for a conditional sentence, whereby charges are reduced or dismissed if certain conditions are closely met over a pre-agreed period.

To be eligible for a conditional sentence, an offender must generally:

  • Be very unlikely to re-offend
  • Accept responsibility for the charge(s)
  • Agree to complete an appropriate treatment program
  • Face likely hardship or mental health issues if a prison sentence is imposed

One of the terms of probation for luring a child will be no contact with the complainant or their family. No use of the internet or contact with anyone under the age of 16 or 18 are other likely stipulations, amongst others.

What are possible defences for child luring?

To secure a conviction for luring a child, the Crown Prosecution will need to prove three elements:

  1. Deliberate communication with the complainant via a computer.
  2. Knowledge or belief that the contacted individual was under 16 (or recklessness/willful disregard that they were under 16).
  3. Communications were intended to facilitate the commission of at least one of the specified offences.

Most defences for luring a child are built around the mistaken belief of age, the use of entrapment by law enforcement or a breach of Canadian Charter rights during the investigation, arrest or charge.

How can a criminal defence lawyer help?

If you’re accused of child luring, your future freedom, employment, well-being and more are at stake. Many people are wrongly accused of this crime and it’s essential to understand your rights and responsibilities and how best to proceed.

The right legal advice at this time can prevent the situation from worsening and increase the chances of clearing your name, while also offering valuable support as your case passes through the criminal justice system in Alberta.

If a conviction looks likely, your criminal defence lawyer may be able to negotiate with Crown counsel ahead of trial and mitigate the consequences for your future.

Call us to arrange a confidential consultation

To speak with Cory Wilson or arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with Wilson Criminal Defence, call 403-978-6052 or email us here.

About Cory Wilson

Cory has represented individuals from all walks of life including lawyers, police officers, athletes, corporate executives, teachers, and everything in between. Cory believes in access to justice for every person charged with a criminal offence regardless of their economic background.

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