Cybercrime Prosecutions

Cybercrime Prosecutions

DATE: March 20, 2008

UPDATED: April 3, 2009

SUBJECT: RESPONSIBILITY FOR CYBERCRIME PROSECUTIONS

BACKGROUND:

Generally, carriage of all prosecutions and the provision of all pre-charge advice are within the control of the Crown Prosecutor’s office in whose jurisdiction the offence is or will be alleged to have occurred.  This general rule is subject to a number of qualifications and exceptions, including those noted below and those noted in Special Prosecutions (Sensitive and Complex Prosecutions) and in the guidelines respecting appeals and applications to the Court of Appeal of Alberta and the Supreme Court of Canada (Criteria for Appeals to the Court of Appeal of Alberta, Appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada and Procedure for Initiating Appeals to the Court of Appeal of Alberta)

In 2003, Alberta Justice became the first prosecution service in Canada to devote specific resources to combating so-called cybercrimes.  Cybercrime refers generally to crimes that are perpetrated through the use computers, the Internet, e-mail or other forms of electronic communication, and includes a broad range of offences such as the possession and distribution of child pornography, online fraud, defamation, hate crimes, voyeurism, and counseling offences.

Designated Crown prosecutors within the Special Prosecutions Branch have been assigned to the prosecution of all types of cybercrime.  Also, the position of Technology and Internet Crimes Coordinator has been created for the purpose of coordinating the prosecution of all such cases.

PRACTICE:

  1. Designated Crown prosecutors within the Special Prosecutions Branch shall have carriage of all prosecutions, and shall be responsible for the provision of all advice sought by an investigative agency, in respect of alleged offences that fit within the following classes of cases:
    1. All offences relating to the creation, circulation or possession of child pornography or obscene material (s. 163, 163.1 of the Criminal Code), whether or not a computer or the Internet is implicated
    2. Luring via a computer system (s. 172.1)
    3. Sexual interference (s. 151), invitation to sexual touching (s. 152), sexual exploitation (s. 153) where the suspect/accused locates the child victim through the Internet or e-mail)
    4. All forms of fraud via the Internet or e-mail
    5. Mischief in relation to data (so-called hacking) (s. 430(1.1))
    6. Defamation (s. 300) or the promotion of hatred (s. 319(2)) via the Internet or e-mail
    7. Criminal harassment (s. 264) via the Internet or via e-mail
    8. Voyeurism (s. 162) by any electronic means
    9. Any offence (e.g., uttering threats (s. 264.1), weapons trafficking (s. 99), aiding or abetting offences (s. 21) via any electronic communication) that have been facilitated, in whole or in part, by the use of a computer system or electronic communications
  2. Upon the initiation of any such prosecution or upon an investigative agency contacting the Crown for the purpose of obtaining pre-charge advice in respect of its investigation of any such offences, the matter shall be immediately referred to the Technology and Internet Crimes Coordinator.
  3. Crown prosecutors who are not members of the Special Prosecutions Branch may, with the consent of the Director of the Special Prosecutions Branch, have carriage of any such case and may provide any pre-charge advice that has been sought, but when doing so, they are accountable to, and under the direction of, the Director of the Special Prosecutions Branch.