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Indecent Act and Indecent Exposure in Canada
The Criminal Code of Canada Section 173 covers indecent acts and indecent exposure. These are two separate criminal offences involving different circumstances. Both are sex crimes that can lead to imprisonment, fines, and registration as a sex offender.
Here you can learn more about the types of indecent acts, sentencing for these crimes, and how to defend yourself against criminal charges with the help of criminal lawyer Calgary.
Determining Prosecution for a Summary or Indictable Offence
When someone faces charges of an indecent act, it doesn’t always refer to only one specific offence. It can include multiple acts. This section is a hybrid offence. That means the Crown prosecutor can consider the police’s statements about the crime to determine how to prosecute. They can proceed with a summary offence or indictable offence.
An indictable offence is a more serious crime with greater punishment. The maximum sentence can be life imprisonment. A prison term of more than two years is served in federal prison, while a sentence of fewer than two years is served in a provincial institution.
A summary offence is a less serious crime resulting in a lesser punishment. The maximum jail sentence is a term of imprisonment not more than two years.
Penalties for Indecent Act and Indecent Exposure
Two primary acts can lead to an indecent act or indecent exposure charge.
The first is an indecent act in a public place in front of one or more people. It can also involve the intention of offending or assaulting another person. Sentencing for this crime can include six months to two years imprisonment, depending on the Crown prosecutor’s decision. There might also be a fine of up to $5,000.
The second act is exposing genitals to someone under 16 for a sexual purpose. The mandatory minimum sentence for this offence is thirty days imprisonment with a maximum of two years imprisonment for more serious cases.
An indecent exposure conviction can also lead to social and legal consequences. The court can impose a victim protection order for the complainant or someone who witnessed the crime. The order prohibits the accused from communicating with the complainant or witness and visiting their residence, workplace, or place of worship.
If the victim is under 16, a court might order the accused to avoid locations such as:
- A public park or swimming area where a person under 16 might be present
- Daycare centre, playground, community centre, or school ground
- Within two kilometres or any distance specified in the order of a dwelling-house where the victim resides
- Any employment involving a position of authority or trust toward someone under 16
According to the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, anyone convicted of indecent exposure must register as a sex offender.
A person subject to an order must report to a registration centre within seven days if they are not in custody on the day they become subject to the obligation. They must report within seven days under any other circumstance.
The information a convicted sex offender must provide includes:
- Legal name and aliases
- Birth date
- Physical description, such as height and weight
- Primary address and secondary residences
- Current photo
- Identifying marks, such as scars or tattoos
- Vehicle information
- Employment information
- Convicted sex offence
The offender must report changes to any information on the registry within seven days. The duration of registration depends on the nature and severity of the crime. It can last anywhere from ten to twenty years of life.
How a Criminal Defence Lawyer Can Help
You should contact Alberta Legal immediately after an arrest so we can start preparing a defence. Your criminal defence lawyer can challenge whether the act you committed meets the legal definition of an indecent act.
For example, the prosecution must prove the conduct occurred in a location the public can access. We might question whether the location is a public place under the law. A public place might include:
- Hiking trail
- Public park
- Motor vehicle
- Recreation center
- Movie theatre
- Sporting event
- Common area in an apartment building
- Parking lot
The indecent exposure must also be intentional. Participating in sexual activity in a remote part of a parking lot at night meets the public place requirement but doesn’t necessarily establish intent. There can be an argument that intent did not exist because the chosen location was in a dark area where others could not have seen what was happening.
Another concern is whether the act occurred in front of one or more persons. Although two people participate in an indecent act, they cannot be the two witnesses. There must be at least one other person to consider it an indecent act. A surveillance camera also doesn’t meet the requirement of the conduct occurring in the presence of one or more persons.
The burden of proof for indecent exposure is lower than for an indecent act. It can occur in any place. It must involve the exposure of genitals to a person 16 or younger for a sexual purpose. A common defence against this charge is arguing whether the accused exposed their genitals for a sexual purpose.
If the police violated your rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms any time before or after your arrest, we may argue the evidence they collected is inadmissible. We’ll work to convince the court that some or all of the evidence be excluded from trial proceedings. Our goal is always to provide you with the best defence possible.
Contact an Experienced Calgary Criminal Defence Lawyer
At Alberta Legal, our team of lawyers has decades of experience representing clients in criminal cases. We dedicate our time and resources to creating defence strategies to protect our clients’ rights and secure their freedom. When you retain us, we will fight for your future and try to achieve the best possible outcome.
If you were arrested or charged with an indecent act, call or contact us online for an in-person or virtual consultation. We are ready to help you defend against serious allegations and pursue reduced or dropped charges.