Understanding Canadian Criminal Law

Communicating for the Purpose of Prostitution

prostitution charges

This article provides legal information about soliciting a prostitute charge in Toronto,  Ontario. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for proper legal advice. Those looking for legal advice on soliciting a prostitute should consult a criminal lawyer. Call Daniel Brown to discuss your criminal matter at (416) 297-7200.

Frequently asked questions about communicating for the purpose of prostitution:

Is it a crime in Canada to engage in prostitution or to obtain the sexual services of a prostitute?

Yes. Either stopping or attempting to stop a person in order to communicate for the purpose of prostitution or alternatively, communicating or attempting to communicate for the purpose of prostitution will be sufficient to ground a conviction for the offence. This means that both the prostitute and the person seeking the prostitute’s services can be found guilty of this offence.

What if I wasn’t successful in my attempt to obtain a prostitute’s services?

It is not necessary to be successful in one’s attempt to communicate for the purpose of prostitution. Merely attempting to communicate with a prostitute is sufficient to be convicted of the offence.

What if I was asking the prostitute how much s/he charged out of curiosity and NOT with the intention to solicit their services as a prostitute?

The Crown must prove as a fact that it was the intention of the accused person to solicit services for the purpose of prostitution. The accused must be “serious”. S/he must mean what s/he says and be willing and ready to carry out the transaction. Simply being curious or joking is permitted under the legislation and is not evidence of the required intention to communicate for the purpose of prostitution.

Can I be found guilty if I tried soliciting an undercover officer who wasn’t actually a prostitute?

The act of solicitation does not only apply to prostitutes, but to all people. Therefore, one can be found guilty of the offence of prostitution even if the person they were attempting to solicit to have sexual activity was an undercover officer.

Must there be a monetary transaction for the offence of communicating for the purpose of prostitution to be completed?

No. Money does not have to be tendered for the offence of communicating for the purpose of prostitution to be complete. All that is required is an intention to engage in the sexual act. Discussion of money and the ability to pay are only some of the factors the court will consider when determining whether a person actually had the intention to communicate for the purpose of prostitution.

What will happen to me at court if I am charged with this offence?

In some cases, a first time offender may be eligible to participate in a counseling program, which, if successfully completed will result in a withdrawal of the charge by the Crown attorney. These types of programs are often referred to as “diversion” programs as they are created to divert accused persons out of the justice system without criminal records.

What type of program must I attend (assuming I am eligible) and how is eligibility for the diversion program determined?

The diversion program an accused person is required to attend before their charge of communication for the purpose of prostitution is withdrawn is usually a one-day session, which discusses the risks associated with this type of criminal behavior. The program itself costs several hundred dollars (approximately $500 depending on the courthouse). Typically, those who do not have prior criminal records or related arrests will be eligible for this diversion program. Eligibility is determined by the Crown Attorney’s office- usually with the assistance of a criminal defence lawyer acting on the accused person’s behalf.

If I am eligible for and complete the diversion program, will I have a criminal record?

No. This type of counseling program was created to ensure that if an accused person successfully completes the program they would not have a criminal record of any kind.

What if I am not eligible for the diversion program?

At this stage, an accused person will have to decide based on the evidence whether or not they wish to take the case to trial or plead guilty.

What are the possible penalties for communicating for the purpose of prostitution?

An accused person may be given a range of sentence starting with a discharge (not considered a criminal record) all the way up to six months in jail depending on the seriousness of the offence, the criminal record of the accused person and a number of different factors the judge will consider at the time of sentencing.

What are the consequences of a soliciting a prostitute conviction?

The consequences arising from a soliciting a prostitute conviction can include:

  • job loss
  • fines, probation, and possible of imprisonment
  • problems with immigration, permanent residence, and citizenship applications
  • being deemed ineligible for certain professions, jobs, and opportunities
  • being denied entry into the United States or other countries
  • living with the social stigma of a criminal record
  • risk of the conviction being reported publicly in the media
  • obtaining a criminal record that will be stored and accessible in the national CPIC database

For individuals without criminal histories, the effect of a prostitution conviction on their livelihood, freedom, and future opportunities in life can be tremendous.

If you or someone you know is charged with communication for the purpose of prostitution, you should immediately contact a criminal lawyer to determine your best defence to this type of criminal charge. Daniel Brown can be reached for a consultation about your case at (416) 297-7200.

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