Supreme Court rules mandatory minimum sentences for child luring are unconstitutional

OTTAWA — Canada's top court has ruled that applying mandatory minimum sentences to the offence of child luring is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court of Canada found in a six-to-one decision released today that such sentences violate the Charter-protected right that guards against "cruel and unusual treatment or punishment."

A summary of the decision says the court ruled that mandatory minimum sentences for the offence of child luring apply to "an exceptionally wide scope of conduct" and can therefore lead to "grossly disproportionate punishments."

Justices examined the issue in reference to two specific cases, noting that the decision comes at a time when it says the internet has made access to children "unprecedented."

One of the two appeals it examined concerned a man who pleaded guilty to child luring and sexual interference after having sex with a girl four times over the course of two years, beginning when she was 13 years old and he was 22.

He challenged the one-year mandatory minimum sentence for child luring on constitutional grounds and a sentencing judge instead imposed five months of imprisonment for that offence — but in its decision today, the Supreme Court ordered a one-year sentence despite agreeing that the minimum is unconstitutional.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2023.

The Canadian Press