Age of Consent to Sexual Activities

Jupiterimages / Goodshoot / Thinkstock

For some sexual crimes, when the victim is under 16 years old, the law doesn't allow the accused to claim that the young person agreed to the sexual activity. This is because the minimum legal age for consenting to a sexual activity is 16.

In this article, Éducaloi explains the rules on the age of consent to sexual activities. "Consent" means agreement.

Minimum Age for Consenting to a Sexual Activity

In Canada, the minimum age for consenting to a sexual activity is 16.

If a person took part in a sexual activity with someone under the age of 16 and a complaint is filed with the police, the law doesn't recognize the young person's consent.

For example, if a person is accused of sexual contact with or sexual assault of someone under 16, the person charged with the crime can't use the defence that the young person consented, even if the sexual activity was voluntary.

Some Exceptions When the Partner Is Under 16

There are some exceptions to the rules explained above.

People under 16 are allowed to voluntarily have sexual contact with each other, as long as the following conditions are met:

Younger Partner Is 12 or 13 Years Old

  • The older partner is less than two years older than the younger partner.

 AND

Some people are usually in a "position of authority" because of their jobs:

  • school teachers
  • employers
  • coaches

Younger Partner Is 14 or 15 Years Old

  • The older partner is less than five years older than the younger partner.

AND

Young People Ages 16 and 17

The law says that a 16- or 17-year-old can consent to sexual activities. But it is still a crime to take part in sexual activities with a 16- or 17-year-old if these elements are proved:

People 18 Years and Over

The law always takes into account consent for people 18 years old or older. So, a person accused of a crime can raise as a defence the fact that his or her adult partner consented to the sexual activities.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.