The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that mandatory minimum sentences for child luring are unconstitutional.
This decision stems from cases involving individuals who challenged the minimum sentences for child luring, arguing they violated their Charter rights.
Child luring is outlined in section 172.1(1) of the Criminal Code and involves adults using telecommunication to target children or individuals believed to be children for various offenses like sexual exploitation, sexual assault, incest, and child pornography.
The mandatory minimum sentence for child luring is one year for indictable offenses and six months for summary convictions.
The decision comes after Maxime Bertrand Marchand challenged the one-year mandatory minimum sentence for child luring. Marchand had previously pleaded guilty to sexual interference and child luring after meeting and having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old victim multiple times when he was 22.
Marchand argued that the mandatory minimum sentence was inconsistent with the Charter’s section 12, which protects against cruel and unusual punishment.
On Friday, the Court agreed with Marchand, finding the one-year sentence to be grossly disproportionate to the five-month sentence imposed for luring.
Supreme Court agrees
In another unrelated case, an individual identified as H.V. pleaded guilty to child luring for sending sexual text messages to the victim over a ten-day period. H.V. challenged the six-month mandatory minimum sentence for summary conviction child luring, arguing it violated the Charter. The court agreed and imposed a different sentence.
The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that these mandatory minimum sentences for child luring are grossly disproportionate in many foreseeable scenarios.
Justice Martin, writing for the majority, emphasized that striking down the mandatory minimums does not diminish the seriousness of the child luring offense. Martin argued it simply acknowledges that the mandatory periods of incarceration apply to a wide range of conduct and can lead to disproportionately harsh punishments.
In the case of Mr. Bertrand Marchand, the Court increased his sentence to one year’s imprisonment, emphasizing the harm caused to the victim and the seriousness of the luring offense. This sentence is to be served separately from his sentence for sexual interference.