Prostitution

This information is not legal advice, and we cannot guarantee it is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. See our disclaimer & terms of use.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS IN .PDF FORMAT

 

*Please note: the law in Canada surrounding prostitution and sex work is under review. This page may not accurately reflect the current law. Our apologies for any inconvienience. For questions please contact us by phone at (780) 492-2226.

Contents

Introduction
Communication For The Purposes Of Prostitution
Undercover Police Officers
Photographs
Procuring
Living Off The Avails Of Prostitution
Getting Arrested For Prostitution Charges
Coarse
The Protection Of Sexually Exploited Children Act (PSECA)

Referral Numbers

 

Introduction

Prostitution, engaging in sex for money, is not a crime if you are over 18 years old. When someone has a date or “turns a trick” he or she is not breaking the law. However, Section 213 of the Criminal Code of Canada states that any person who stops or attempts to stop a motor vehicle, impedes the flow of traffic (which includes pedestrians or vehicles), or communicates for the purposes of prostitution or to obtain the sexual services of a prostitute in a public place is guilty of a summary conviction offence.

^ TOP ^

Communication For The Purposes Of Prostitution

Communication for the purpose of prostitution is any attempt to get a person to pay money for sex or to provide sexual services in return for money.  

There are two main forms of communication:

 

1. Verbal Communication:

Verbal communication is using words to say something, either by talking or in writing. A person is breaking the law if they discuss the price of sex acts or the services to be performed. A person can still be charged even if:

  • The price is not fixed
  • The acts to be performed were not fixed
  • The communication does not end in sex (or a “date”)
  • The communication takes place in a car, moving or not.

 

2. Non-Verbal Communication:

Non-verbalcommunication includes gestures, body language, hand signals or other ways of communicating without words. This can be anything from a wink to waving arms or interrupting the movement of pedestrians or traffic. Police must prove that the person used the action to stop another person for the purposes of prostitution. For proof, the police look at such facts as the time, place, past actions of the person stopping the car and other things going on in the area.

A person can be found guilty of communicating for the purposes of prostitution even where there has been no physical contact. Any communication for the purpose of sexual acts in exchange for payment is enough.

^ TOP ^

Undercover Police Officers

The majority of case law states that a police officer does not have to identify himself or herself if asked, “Are you a cop?” or “Are you undercover?” The police only have to identify themselves once they start an arrest. Also, a police officer IS allowed to sexually touch a prostitute if it is in fulfilment of the officer’s duty. So, if a prostitute asks a potential john to touch her sexually and he does, that does not guarantee that he is not a police officer.

^ TOP ^

Photographs

A police officer cannot take a photograph of someone who is charged with communicating for the purposes of prostitution unless permission is given. Communicating is a summary conviction offence, which means it is considered to be less serious than offences labelled as indictable. If someone is charged with other offences, which are indictable or hybrid offences, they may be required to give fingerprints or be photographed.

^ TOP ^

Procuring

Procuring means counselling or persuading someone to do something. Section 212 of the Criminal Code of Canada says that it is an indictable offence to procure a person to have sex with another person, and punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Procuring can take many forms, including but not limited to: hiding someone in a bawdy house (or brothel), persuading someone to become a prostitute, giving someone drugs or alcohol to make it possible for them to have sex, or living off the profits of the prostitution of another person.

^ TOP ^

Living off the Avails of Prostitution

Under Section 212 of the Criminal Code of Canada, it is an offence to live entirely or in part off of the avails or profits of prostitution. This law is meant to target pimps whose main source of income is prostitution. This offence is not applied to prostitutes as the main offender but to those who make money off of the prostitution of others.

 

This offence is not meant to punish a relationship of a legitimate living arrangement; the mere sharing of expenses between two people, where one of them is a prostitute, is not enough to satisfy this offence. There must be a direct benefit to one person from the prostitution of another.

 

This offence carries with it a reverse onus provision. That means, once the Crown proves that a person is living with or routinely in the company of a known prostitute, it can be presumed that the person is living off the avails of prostitution unless the accused provides evidence showing that he was not. This means the accused must raise a reasonable doubt that although they are living with a prostitute, they are not receiving a direct benefit from it. This may involve showing that they have another source of income. However, using wages from prostitution to support children is not illegal even though the children are receiving a direct benefit.

 

Living off the avails of prostitution is an indictable offence and punishable by a term of imprisonment of not more than 10 years. If the prostitute is under the age of 18, the potential maximum sentence is 14 years with a minimum sentence of 2 years. If violence is used or threatened there is a minimum 5 year sentence.

 

Public Indecency

 

Section 173 of the Criminal Code of Canada states that it is an offence to commit public acts of indecency. The standard for this is one of community tolerance. Section 174 of the Criminal Code of Canada states that it is an offence if one is nude in a public place, or if one is nude in a private place but is exposed to public view. The offence is punishable on summary conviction.

^ TOP ^

Getting Arrested for Prostitution Charges

1. A Person’s Rights when Under Arrest
When someone is arrested, the police must:

 

  • Inform them of the reason for the arrest
  • Inform them of their right to call a lawyer
  • Inform them that they can get free legal advice (any time, day or night)
  • Give them the phone number for free legal advice
  • Give them reasonable privacy and access to a phone to call a lawyer
  • Give them a reasonable amount of time to contact and talk to a lawyer
  • Inform them that they can get duty counsel any time (duty counsel is a lawyer who will talk on their behalf in court)

 

The police police must not force someone to answer questions before she talks to a lawyer if she has asked to speak to one. If she waives her right to counsel she still has the right to be silent when asked questions. There are some court diversion programs that may be offered by the police upon arrest such as SNUG.

^ TOP ^

Coarse

The Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton (PAAFE) offers a diversion program called COARSE (“Creating Options Aimed at Reducing Sexual Exploitation”). If an adult is charged with summary conviction offences, such as soliciting, minor theft, or breach of probation, that relate to their being a prostitute, they can apply to do a COARSE diversion plan. If they are successful, their charges will be withdrawn. COARSE is designed to help people involved in prostitution deal with the causes of their involvement, such as addictions, homelessness, and mental health issues. Applicants must be serious about trying to end their involvement with prostitution.

^ TOP ^

The Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act (PSECA)

The Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act (PSECA) is based on the idea that children (under 18 years old) involved in prostitution are victims of sexual abuse who need help and protection. PSECA allows for youth considered at immediate risk of being involved in prostitution to be taken away by the police or caseworker and taken to a “safe house” and confined for up to 5 days and can be renewed for a maximum of 42 days more and then connected with support services and placement services if they are unable to return home. At the safe house, the child is assessed for protection needs, medical concerns, drug and alcohol use, and other risks. People who live off of the profits of the prostitution of a person under 18 can face a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison with a minimum sentence of 2 years. Anyone who communicates for the purpose of obtaining sexual services of a child under 18 can face imprisonment for a maximum of 5 years and minimum of 6 months.

^ TOP ^

 Referral Numbers:   

 

Reporting Abuse & Getting Emergeny Assistance 

 

Edmonton Police Service

           Emergency................................................................................................................................................. 911

           Non-emergency…............................ (780) 423-4567 (or #377 from a cell phone in the Edmonton area)

 

Crime Stoppers National Tip-line (anonymous) ........................................................................... 1-800-222-8477

 

Child Abuse Hotline............................................................................................................................ 1-800-387-5437

 

 

Legal Resources

 

Legal Aid Society.............................................................................................................................. (780) 427-7575

       Free legal information

       Lawyers who may represent you for a highly reduced rate if you make less than a certain amount

 

Emergency Protection Order Program...........................................................................................(780) 422-9222

       Lawyers (free of charge, & with no eligibility requirements) to help obtain protection orders that can prevent a family member from contacting you

 

Lawyer Referral Service................................................................................................................ 1-800-661-1095

          Referrals to up to 3 lawyers that may be able to help you (they will be able to speak to you for up to 30min for free and then will likely want to be hired and paid)

 

Edmonton Community Legal Centre............................................................................................ (780) 702-1725

       Free legal information, free presentations on topics such as immigration, and spousal support.

 

Student Legal Services of Edmonton........................................................................................... (780) 492-2226

       Law students able to provide free legal information and assistance

 

Elizabeth Fry Society....................................................................................................................... (780) 422-4775

       Court workers explain court procedure and terminology, provide legal referrals, and offer practical assistance and support to those appearing in court

 

Native Counselling Services......................................................................................................... (780) 451-4002

       Court workers provide information on the nature of the criminal charge, rights, and court procedure. Assistance and support with the necessary documents, Legal Aid applications, and providing written submission when speaking to sentence

 

COARSE (Creating Options Aimed at Reducing Sexual Exploitation).............................. (780) 819-6656

       A community court diversion program where participants work hard to create a new path for their life, which can result in a withdrawal of charges or a reduced sentence.

 

 

Support

 

Chrysalis National Human Trafficking Toll-Free Line............................................................ 1-866-528-7109

       Free, confidential telephone counseling service for women, men & youth who are working in the sex industry or who have been trafficked

       Free participation in Project Lifeline: call in before and after a date, and if you aren’t heard from after, the project will inform your emergency contact

 

Crossroads ...................................................................................................................................... (780) 474-7421

       Support for individuals that are/have been involved in street prostitution, escort, and massage service, including a street outreach van providing immediate help (Mon, Tues, Wed, and Thurs from 8pm-12midnight, 780-405-6539).

 

Kindred House................................................................................................................................ (780) 424-4091

       A safe house and resource center for women and transgendered individuals who are involved in street prostitution. Open 12noon - 5pm, Monday - Friday.

 

ACT Alberta (Action Coalition on Human Trafficking) ............................................................. (780) 474-1104

       Assistance for victims of human trafficking, training & education for professionals working with trafficked persons

 

 

Counselling

 

Support Network 24-Hour Distress Line.................................................................................... (780) 482-4357

       Someone to listen & talk to when life hurts, if you are thinking of suicide please call

 

SACE: Edmonton Sexual Assault Centre 24-Hour Crisis Line............................................ (780) 423-4121

       Confidential support for anyone experiencing sexual violence or supporting someone affected by sexual violence

 

Family Violence 24-Hour Info Line.............................................................................................. (780) 310-1818

       Information and support in over 170 languages

 

CEASE (Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation) ....................................................................... (780) 471-6143

       Counselling, trauma recovery, and emergency poverty relief for individuals working to heal after experiencing exploitation.

 

City of Edmonton Assessment & Short-Term Counselling Services...................................... (780) 496-4777

       Free short term individual counselling, free family violence support groups facilitated by a social worker, free cell phones for victims of family violence 

 

YMCA Counselling Centre............................................................................................. (780) 423-9922 ext. 222

       Counselling offered on a sliding scale (may be free depending on your income) for healing from violence, exploitation, addictions, and a variety of other concerns

 

Walk-in Counselling Society of Edmonton................................................................................ (780) 757-0900

       Drop-in counselling session offered on a sliding scale (may be free depending on your income), designed to be a one-time experience

 

 

Shelters

 

Women’s Emergency Accommodation Centre (WEAC) ......................................................  (780) 423-5302

9611-101A Ave, Edmonton AB

       An emergency place to stay for homeless women, new women admitted at 9pm every night

 

Hope Mission Emergency Shelter............................................................................................ (780) 422-2018

9908-106 Ave, Edmonton AB

       A safe place to sleep for those living on the streets. Separate shelter areas available for men, women, couples, and youth. Open at 8pm. 

 

Edmonton Women's Shelter (WIN House) ..................................... (24 Hour Crisis Line) (780) 479-0058

       Shelter and support for women with or without children who are fleeing domestic violence

 

Lurana Shelter ................................................................................................... (Crisis Line) (780) 424-5875

       High security shelter and support for women with or without children who are fleeing domestic abuse

 

SAGE Seniors Safe House ....................................................................................................  (780) 702-1520

       Emergency housing for men and women over 60 years of age who are leaving abusive situations

 

YESS (Youth Empowerment and Support Services) ......................................................  (780) 468-7070

       Emergency shelter and short-term shelter for youth.

 

A Safe Place (Sherwood Park) ..................................................... (24 Hour Crisis Line) (780) 464-7233

       A shelter and support for abused women and their children, including free transportation (from Edmonton, Sherwood Park, & Fort Saskatchewan) for admission to the shelter

 

^ TOP ^