Is Prostitution Illegal in Canada?
In Canada, the act of prostitution itself has traditionally not been criminalized though nearly everything associated with it has been. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Bedford, Parliament passed new laws designed to specifically target those who purchase sexual services.
Engaging in sexual acts in a public place: This offence falls under the “indecent act” of the criminal code. For example, engaging in the act of prostitution inside a car is a criminal offence.
Bawdy-houses: A bawdy-house is a place for the purpose of sex work. It is illegal to run one of these locations. If you are caught in one, whether you are working or paying, or if you own the property, you can be arrested. Transporting or offering to take someone to a common bawdy-house is also punishable by law.
Purchase/Advertising sexual services: As of 2014, it is illegal to purchase or advertise sexual services, whether you are in a public place or not. That means that you cannot legally pay for sexual services even in your private residence. However, those selling their own sexual services are exempt from criminal liability.
While the law still allows for the sale of sexual services in private areas, Canada has slowly moved to make almost all aspects of prostitution illegal.
What Else Is Illegal?
Although selling sexual services is not illegal, there are additional activities that are generally associated with prostitution that are criminal offences.
The Business of Prostitution: Business aspects of prostitution are considered illegal, including living on material benefits from sex work. Being a pimp, or someone who makes money off of prostitution, is illegal and punishable with a jail term of up to fourteen years. You also may not force someone into prostitution in Canada.
Under Age: Prostitution becomes entirely illegal in Canada when it involves a minor. You cannot buy sexual services from, or communicate about buying sexual services from, anyone under the age of 18. This type of crime may also have other charges attached to it, such as sexual interference with a minor or sexual assault.
Solicitation for Prostitution
Section 213 (1.1) of the Canadian Criminal Code defines soliciting as communicating with another person, in a public place, with the objective of practicing prostitution. This means that it is against the law to solicit a client by offering sexual services. For a sex worker to be accused of this crime, it must be provable that the sex worker solicited the client. However, the government claims that the law is designed to mainly target those purchasing rather than selling sexual services.
To conclude, there are many laws that make prostitution a crime. It is legal for sex workers to sell sexual services, but they cannot solicit a client, especially in a public place.
What to do if you’ve been accused of prostitution or solicitation
Because some laws are fairly new, you may not know whether you’ve done something illegal. If you believe that your actions could be considered a criminal offence, call one of the most experienced criminal law firms Edmonton offers. At Haryett & Co, our lawyers know the ins and outs of the court system and will help you understand your rights.