Canada’s new prostitution law will go into effect December 6, criminalizing the purchase of sex for the first time in Canadian history.
The bill criminalizes the buying of sex – or “obtain[ing] for consideration… the sexual services of a person.”
It is not immediately obvious what amounts to a sexual service. Full prostitution would clearly be included. A government legal brief says lap-dancing and masturbation in a massage parlour count as a “sexual service” or prostitution, but not stripping or the production of pornography.
The penalties for buying sexual services include jail time – up to five years in some cases – and mandatory minimum cash fines that go up after a first offence. As a result of the minimum penalty a discharge is not available for someone found guilty of buying or trying to buy sex. A criminal record must follow on conviction.
It may be that diversion leading to a withdrawal of charges is possible in some cases, however, it will be necessary to have serious negotiation with Crown counsel prior to any such result. Having a lawyer involved would be essential.
Information on a person convicted of purchasing or communicating for the purposes of purchasing sexual services may be added to the sex offender registry. Being placed on the sex offender registry can have dramatic negative long time effects.
Being charged with purchasing or attempt to purchase sexual services is a very serious matter. The punishments involved and the long-term implications of conviction are extremely significant.