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    Everything You Wanted to Ask – But Were Afraid To – About Canada’s Sexual Offender Registry

    Canada’s Sexual Offender Registry is often referred to in popular culture, but not much is really known about what it is or how it works outside of the legal profession. This blog post has been created to answer some of your most asked questions about this elusive and notorious Registry.

    What does it mean to be registered as a sex offender?

    The Sex Offender Informational Registration Act (known as SOIRA) requires individuals convicted of designated sex offences to register with the National Sex Offender Registry. The purpose of the SOIRA is to protect society through the effective prevention or investigation of sexual crimes.

     The Registry is Canada-wide and is a database maintained by the RCMP.  The Registry empowers police with a significant amount of personal information about sex offenders. If an individual who is registered under SOIRA is accused of a criminal offence, the police will use the information contained in SOIRA to investigate the alleged offence. The SOIRA also places requirements on sex offenders to abide by for however long they are listed in the Registry.

    What offences will lead to registration as a sex offender?

    The SOIRA designates specific offences which will lead to sex offender registration. These are listed in the Criminal Code of Canada under section 490.011(1).

    Some examples of these offences are:

    • sexual assault
    • sexual interference
    • invitation to sexual touching
    • sexual exploitation
    • bestiality
    • incest
    • indecent exposure
    • child pornography (possession, production, distribution)

    How long will a sex offender stay on the registry?

    The SOIRA requires registered sex offenders to register for 10 years, 20 years or for life depending on the offence and other factors. Even after the term of reporting has terminated, those placed on the Sex Offender Registry will remain listed in the database indefinitely.

    Can a person under 18 years of age be registered as a sex offender?

    No. SOIRA does not apply to young persons unless a conviction is entered and they are sentenced as an adult.

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    What information is provided to the RCMP by an individual placed on the Sex Offender Registry?

    Individuals placed on the Sex Offender Registry are required to provide the RCMP with a significant amount of personal information.

    This includes:

    • date of birth
    • employment information
    • educational information
    • residential address and contact information
    • current photograph
    • physical description including height, weight, description of tattoos/scars
    • sex offence(s) for which the individual has been convicted

    How does registration as a sex offender affect the offender’s daily life?

    The SOIRA places a series of restrictions on registered sex offenders. Registrants cannot attend public spaces where children are likely present such as schools, parks, swimming pools, playgrounds and daycares. Those registered with SOIRA cannot work or volunteer with children. In many cases, they cannot have contact with children without court-endorsed supervision, and they might be restricted from using the internet.

    Importantly, the SOIRA requires those registered to abide by certain reporting requirements. Those placed on the Registry are required to report within seven days of the date of sentencing. They must register and supply the above noted personal information on an annual basis.

    Those registered with SOIRA are also required to report to the RCMP their intent to travel to any location in Canada for more than one week in duration, and provide information for where they will be staying.

    Is the registry publicly accessible?

    No. The Sex Offender Registry is not open to the public and cannot be used by police for public notifications.

    What are the rights of someone who is registered as a sex offender?

     Under SOIRA, a registrant has the right to ask for a copy of any information recorded about them at the registration centre. The staff is required to provide any requested information.

    A registrant is also entitled to request staff to correct any information in their file that they believe is incorrect.

    The registrant maintains a limited privacy right to information contained in the Sex Offender Registry. Any information in the registrant’s file can only be requested and examined by the registrant themself or law enforcement agencies.

    Is it possible to terminate one’s status on the sex offender registry?

     Yes. If subject to a ten year order, those registered under SOIRA are able to apply for an early termination order if it has been five years since the order was made. If subject to a twenty year order, the registrant is able to apply for a termination order after ten years. Those subject to a lifetime order cannot apply for a termination order for the first twenty years.

    In order for a judge to grant an early termination order, the court must be satisfied that the registrant’s privacy and liberty interests outweigh the risks posed to society in terminating the order.

    If you or someone you know has been charged with a sexual offence, or has been added to SOIRA, do not hesitate to call our office for legal advice. Our lawyers have experience in dealing with offences of a sexual nature.

    Сall the lawyers at Sarah Leamon Law Group to learn how they can help.

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