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Undercover police sting child luring charges under Section 172.1 of the Criminal Code

About being charged with luring a child after talking to an undercover police officer pretending to be underage in Ontario, Canada.

Child luring charges in Ontario often originate from talking to an undercover police officer who pretends to be an underage child. While police do sometimes try to infiltrate underground online communities (often looking for child pornography as well), child luring sting contacts are often made through popular online dating sites like POF or Grindr, through social media, and other online communities like Craigslist, Leolist, 4chan, etc.

The initial dating profile may state they are 18+ because this is the minimum age to use most sites. As such the officer will need to clearly disclose they are underage to the suspect they are investigating (catfishing). In a lot of the calls we get, the officer indicates they are 15 years old. Age 15 is probably chosen because it is easier to prosecute cases where the alleged victim is under the age of 16 than those under 18 since sexual intent does not necessarily have to be proven if under 16.

Sometimes the police will pretend to be younger than 15 but may be reluctant to do so in cases where they have no prior information about their suspect. If they are responding to a police report that suggests their suspect may be a pedophile the police investigation may involve pretending to be a prepubescent child or their parent. In online sting operations usually an age range of 13 - 15 is chosen to increase the likelihood of making an arrest.

Demonstrating sexual intent is often a key part of the investigation though it is not always required to charge for luring

In child luring cases where the alleged victim is under age 16 the police do not necessarily have to prove the accused had sexual intentions, but they will almost always try to solicit sexually charged incriminating statements from the accused prior to arresting them. They may also try to bait the accused into admitting to offences related to child pornography.

If the accused makes statements indicating they are looking to have sex with, sext, or trade nude pictures these are seen as aggravating factors by the police, the Crown, and the court leading to longer jail sentences and tougher release conditions. It also increases the likelihood the police will release the name of the accused publically via a press release to alert other potential alleged victims to come forward.

Child luring charges can be laid even if nothing sexual is ever said.

Child luring charges can be laid even if sexual intent cannot be proven because the offence also criminalizes taking children out of the possession of their parents/guardians without consent if under age 16 (CC s. 280 and s. 281).

Some accused wrongly believe that since they were never overtly sexual in the conversation that they cannot be charged. They reason that surely it cannot be a crime to talk to a child online if nothing sexual is discussed, but this is not necessarily true depending on what else was said or implied by the conversation.

Whether child luring or another offence has been committed or not may not be particularly clear in every case. If the case went to trial it would ultimately be up to the judge in court to hear the evidence and decide.

Just wanting to be a “big brother”, “father figure”, and other innocent explanations frequently given to police

In cases where the defendant does not say anything overtly sexual to the pretend underage child they often will respond by saying:
  1. “I was just talking to them as friend (nothing sexual)”
  2. “I wanted to warn them about the dangers talking to strangers online”
  3. “I wanted to help them with school or extracurricular activities”
When an accused makes these types of statements to the police they are usually trying to indicate that their intentions were not sexual. Anyone who is under investigation for child luring should remain silent as such statements provide key evidence for the Crown, such as that it was in fact them that was talking to the supposed child.

In some cases, the police may need the accused to admit to being the one talking to them before laying the charges. By saying they only were talking to them because they wanted to help (or were bored, lonely, etc.), they are admitting to the police at least one key element of the offence (identity) and perhaps giving even more evidence to be later used against them.

A lot of men who are charged with child luring did not sign up for online dating or other public internet forums for the purpose of meeting a child.

Most dating sites have a minimum usage age of 18 and most men are not primarily seeking underage partners. A lot of men receive very little interest from women online leading to feelings of rejection and desperation. They may have personal characteristics that are generally viewed as undesirable causing them to receive no replies, be ignored, ghosted, etc. This overwhelming amount of rejection causes feelings of desperation.

The dejected accused is often lonely, depressed, and sometimes impaired.

When the accused finally encounters the seemingly interested undercover officer (after being rejected 1000s of times), they may wrongly continue talking even after the person reveals they are underage. The accused are often lonely, bored, depressed men who feel down on their luck. They may also have been drinking or using drugs that impair their ability to reason at the time of committing the alleged offence.

The accused may have acted out of character

Some people accused of child luring are vulnerable people who in a moment of weakness are presented with an opportunity that they wrongly (and illegally) pursue to varying degrees even if it was not what they were ideally seeking to do. Similar to offences related to child pornography, it is extremely easy to commit child luring, particularly when talking to a trained police officer pretending to be an underage child.

Sometimes this process is gradual and starts with the accused thinking that it is just non sexual chat and that they are doing nothing wrong. Many are also under the false impression that they cannot be charged unless the conversation is sexual, or if they actually try to meet the minor in person.

If you have been charged in an undercover child luring sting you should hire a lawyer immediately to defend you.

Undercover police stings for child luring, child pornography, and other child sexual offences are becoming more common in Ontario (especially in Durham Region and throughout the GTA). These are extremely serious charges that carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 6 months in jail (maximum 14 years), a permanent criminal record, and sex offender registration for up to life.

If you have been charged with luring a child or any sexual offence, call us today at 647-228-5969 for a free case evaluation.



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*2023 Results: the percentage of 99% of clients avoiding a criminal record (conviction) stated on this page is based solely on Lawyer Mark Zinck's personal representation of approximately 2000 criminal defence case clients as of the year 2023. Past results are not necessarily an indication of future results.


 

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   We provide:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration/IRCC issues
  • Employment background check advice and services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • A clear goal of getting the charges dropped without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Timely resolutions
  • Lawyer/client privilege
  • Experienced, focused counsel