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Child Pornography

Penalties for child pornography are governed by onerous minimum punishments that are stipulated in the Criminal Code of Canada. Child pornography charges usually include: possession, access, distribution and making of child pornography.

The laws around child pornography are strict. Officials are increasingly cracking down on detecting individuals who have created, distributed, accessed or are in possession of child pornography. Any sign of access on your computer can lead to a warrant, a home search, and the confiscation of your computer, phone, and other electronic devices. Even if you are innocent, being charged with child pornography comes with life-changing impact.

If you’ve been accused of child pornography, it’s crucial you have legal advice prior to speaking to the police. Your defence lawyer will ensure your rights are not being violated by analyzing that warrant, the evidence against you, and instruct you on how to interact with police. What you say to police could impact whether you win or lose your case.


1. What is child pornography?

Child pornography is defined under section 163.1 of the Criminal Code. Generally, child pornography refers to is any image, video or other visual that depicts a child under the age of eighteen for a sexual purpose.

2. What are the types of child pornography offences?

There are four different offences related to child pornography including:

  1. Section 163.1(2): Making Child Pornography
  2. Section 163.1(3): Distribution of Child Pornography
  3. Section 163.1(4): Possession of Child Pornography
  4. Section 163.1(4.1): Accessing Child Pornography

3. I have been charged with making child pornography – what does this mean?

Section 163.1(2) criminalizes the act of making, printing, publishing or possessing for the purpose of publishing child pornography. This offence can include making videos, taking or printing photos, and even drawings or animations.

4. I have been charged with distributing child pornography – what does this mean?

Section 163.1(3) makes it a criminal offence to transmit, import, export, distribute, sell, or advertise child pornography. This can include  sharing content or helping or telling someone else how to access child pornography.

5. I have been charged with possession of child pornography – what does this mean?

Section 163.1(4) makes it a criminal offence to knowingly possess and control child pornography. To establish this offence, the Crown does not need to prove that you actually viewed the materials as long as they can prove that you possessed the material and were aware of its contents.

6. I have been charged with accessing child pornography – what does this mean?

Section 163.1(4.1) makes it a criminal offence to knowingly view or access child pornography. As a result, you may be charged with a criminal offence for watching or viewing child pornography online, even if you do not download or save materials.

7. What defences do I have?

The defences available depend on the nature and circumstances of the charge.

These investigations are complex and have been made increasingly complex with advancing technology. Browser history, IP addresses, subscriber information, and hard drives are just a few things to consider.

Child pornography charges can be defended through the Charter. For example, you may have a defence if your computer or other property was subject to an illegal search or seizure. If your Constitutional rights were violated, Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence will fight to have the evidence excluded on your behalf.

Another potential defence is that you did not possess the alleged material, either because you had no knowledge of the nature of the material or you had no control over the materials in question. At Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence, we will exhaustively review your case to ensure the best possible outcome.

8. What if I am found guilty?

Child pornography is considered a very serious offence. As a result, child pornography offences carry mandatory minimum jail sentences. These sentences range from six months to fourteen years in jail, depending on the nature and severity of the offence.

The sentence will also vary considerably depending on your level of involvement, the number of videos or images, the age of the children, the sexual nature of the images, and whether any violence was inflicted.

However, some of the mandatory minimum sentences have been struck down in Alberta and elsewhere in Canada for being disproportionate or too harsh in certain circumstances. If you are facing a charge of child pornography, it’s crucial to hire an experienced lawyer who can navigate this complex area of law and secure the best outcome.