What is the Sex Offender Registry in Ontario?

What is the Sex Offender Registry in Ontario?

The Ontario Sex Offender Registry (OSOR) is a database that provides 24-hour information for police services about anyone convicted of a sexual offence in the province. 

In fact, Ontario was the first province to establish a sex offender registry — even before the national database.

The OSOR database is maintained at the Ontario Provincial Police General Headquarters in Orillia. Offender information is provided by Correctional Service Canada (CSC).

The main purpose of the registry is to provide information and investigative tools to police forces and detail the whereabouts of sexual offenders, which can help prevent and solve crimes of a sexual nature. 

For offenders, it’s one of several negative consequences of a conviction for a sex crime.  If you are faced with a sex offence charge, therefore, it’s imperative to seek legal advice. 

What information is included in the sex offender registry?

The OSOR includes the following information about each registered sex offender:

  • Name (current, former and any aliases)
  • Valid ID
  • Main and secondary addresses (residence, workplace, educational institution, volunteer organization, etc.)
  • Telephone numbers
  • Height/weight/build
  • Gender/race
  • Scars/tattoos/birthmarks
  • Photographs (including any distinguishing feature(s) like scars or tattoos)
  • Details of the convicted offence(s)
  • Information on any vehicle(s) owned or regularly driven 

What is Christopher’s Law?

Christopher’s Law came into effect in 2001, after an abduction and murder of an 11-year-old named Christopher Stephenson by a convicted sex offender in Ontario. 

It effectively led to the creation of the OSOR as a way to track convicted, high-risk and dangerous offenders and prevent these individuals from re-offending.

What are the requirements for registering as a sex offender in Ontario?

Under Ontario’s sex offender laws, any resident who has been convicted of a designated sex offence must register with the OSOR. Individuals in Ontario who have been convicted of a sexual offence outside of the province (or even overseas) must also register.

If you are required to register on the database, you will need to do so within seven days of completing the prison sentence. 

Thereafter, you will also be required to report annually to Ontario police in person — generally between the eleventh and twelfth month after the last appearance.

For how long do you have to report to the police?

Reporting requirements vary according to the nature of the sexual offence, the number of offences and the maximum sentence for a conviction.

  • If an offender was convicted of one crime with a maximum sentence of less than 10 years, he/she must usually report for 10 years.
  • If an offender was convicted of one crime with a maximum sentence of more than 10 years, he/she must usually report to the police for life once registered on the database.
  • If an offender was convicted of multiple crimes, he/she must usually report for life.

Who must register?

Any adult convicted anywhere in Canada of a designated “sex offence” (as defined in Christopher’s Law) and resident in Ontario must register on the OSOR.

Even if the offender was convicted of a designated sex offence but was not sentenced to prison, he/she will be entered into the sex offender database if she is resident in Ontario.

A young person who is resident in Ontario convicted of a “sex offence” and tried or sentenced as an adult for that offence would also be required to register.

An offender found to be not criminally responsible for a designated offence due to a mental disorder at the time and given an absolute or conditional discharge, must still usually register with police within seven days of the decision.

After initially reporting within seven days, offenders must also re-report to the registry if they:

  • Change address
  • Change names
  • Become an Ontario resident
  • Return to Ontario after living elsewhere, or 
  • Will cease to be an Ontario resident within seven days

What are the penalties for failing to comply with sex offender regulations?

Failure to comply with registration on the sex offender database can lead to a $25,000 fine and a one-year prison sentence for a first offence.

For subsequent offences, the penalty is a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment for not more than two years less a day.

What are the designated sexual offences in Ontario?

There is a long list of “designated” sexual offences covered under Christopher’s Law and for which an offender must register with the Ontario Sex Offender Registry. These include:

  • A sexual offence against children
  • Sexual interference
  • Invitation to sexual touching
  • Sexual exploitation (age 14 to under 18)
  • Sexual exploitation of a person with a disability
  • Incest
  • Bestiality
  • Compelling bestiality
  • Bestiality in the presence of or by a child
  • Voyeurism
  • Child pornography (all subsections)
  • Access child pornography
  • Parent or guardian procuring sexual activity
  • Luring a child by means of a computer system
  • Exposure to a person under the age of 14
  • Stupefying or overpowering for the purpose of sexual intercourse
  • Living on the avails of prostitution of a person under 18
  • Aggravated offence – living on the avails of prostitution of a person under 18
  • Obtaining prostitution of a person under 18
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm
  • Aggravated sexual assault – use of a firearm
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Removal of a child from Canada

How can I get my name off the sex offender registry in Ontario?

To get your name off the Ontario Sex Offender Registry, you will need to be successful on appeal and secure an acquittal — or obtain a government pardon.

Even if you successfully apply for early termination, it only absolves you of your reporting requirements to the registry. Your information remains in the registry database.

The only way for a registered offender to secure an early termination in Ontario is if a pardon or a record suspension has been received.

What’s the difference between the OSOR and the federal sex offender registry?

The federal database was formed under the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, enacted in 2004.

The main difference between the OSOR and the SOIRA database is that it’s easier to terminate a sexual offender registry order from the national database.

SOIRA allows offenders to apply for a judicial review after five years for a 10-year order and after 10 years for a 20-year order. Offenders subject to a lifetime order can apply for judicial review after 20 years — and every five years thereafter. 

These types of opportunities for removal from the federal database are not generally available with the Ontario Sex Offender Registry.

If you have been accused of a sex offence in Ontario, book a free consultation with David Anber’s Law Office. As experienced sex offence lawyers, we can help you understand your legal options at this difficult time.

David Anber

David Anber

David Anber has been a trailblazing legal practitioner since 2006. His early entry into law practice during his studies marked the beginning of a distinguished career. As a member of both Ontario and Quebec’s bar associations, David excels in defending traffic and criminal cases across both provinces. David contributes to legal discourse through articles for the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa and the Criminal Lawyer’s Association of Ontario.