Sections 4(4) to (7) – The Three “S” Words: Episode Seven of the Ideablawg Podcasts on the Criminal Code of Canada

Welcome to the Ideablawg Podcasts on the Criminal Code of Canada. This is Episode 7 and today we will finish discussing section 4 and the three “S” words: subjects, sexual intercourse, and service. The actual podcast can be found at the bottom of this text.

First, let’s turn to s. 4(4) and the word “subjects.” Remember that this section is truly a housekeeping section, whereby a variety of topics are covered, such as stamps as chattels, which we discussed in episode 5 or the meaning of possession in s. 4(3) from episode 6. Up to now, although the subject matters have differed, the subsections have had a definitional theme, meaning the subsections are clarifying the meaning or interpretation of each particular subject matter – stamps and possession being the examples already given.

Section 4(4) is also an interpretation section but is broad in aspect and does not refer to any particular subject matter but instead speaks to generalities. This section does seem out of place with the others and I do wonder why this subsection is not placed under the interpretation sections 1 to 3.

Let’s read section 4(4), which is entitled “Expressions Taken From Other Acts:”

(4) Where an offence that is dealt with in this Act relates to a subject that is dealt with in another Act, the words and expressions used in this Act with respect to that offence have, subject to this Act, the meaning assigned to them in that other Act.

It appears then that section is looking for consistency between Acts: if the Code refers to a subject which appears in another Act, then the meaning of that subject from the other Act is also the meaning of the subject under the Code.

Again, this section is a presumption – a presumption of consistency – the same subject referred to in different Acts are presumed to be the same. However, this presumption can be negated for if the Code defines the subject differently, then the differing meaning of that subject, as found in the Code, prevails.

A good example would be the offences in the Criminal Code relating to the subject of air travel, such as hijacking an aircraft under s. 76. The term “aircraft” is not defined anywhere in the Code but is defined in the Aeronautics Act, another piece of federal government legislation. According to section 4(4), the meaning of “aircraft” under the Code is the meaning of “aircraft” under the Aeronautics Act. So too, the meaning of “pilot in command” under the Code would be the meaning of “pilot in command” under the Aeronautics Act. But here is the twist: the term “pilot in command” only appears in the Criminal Code under the interpretation section 2 under the definition of “peace officer.” Section 2 defines “peace officer” under subsection (f) as:

 the pilot in command of an aircraft

(i) registered in Canada under regulations made under the Aeronautics Act, or

(ii) leased without crew and operated by a person who is qualified under regulations made under the Aeronautics Act to be registered as owner of an aircraft registered in Canada under those regulations,

while the aircraft is in flight.

Thus, the Criminal Code has broadened the definition of pilot in command in certain circumstances to include the power and authorities of a peace officer in dealing with an offender, such as giving the pilot in command arrest powers under s. 495, which are given only to peace officers.

Section 4(5) is also a definitional section, which specifies when sexual intercourse, our second “s” word, has occurred. It reads as follows:

(5) For the purposes of this Act, sexual intercourse is complete on penetration to even the slightest degree, notwithstanding that seed is not emitted.

This is important for a fairly limited purpose: for a present offence in the Code and for a previous offence no longer found in the Code.

To explain this, we need some context so let’s first look at the historical context of sexual assault.

Originally, when the Criminal Code was finalized in 1892, the crime of “rape” was committed by a “male person” who had “sexual intercourse with a female, not his wife” as found in section 266 as follows:

Rape is the act of a man having carnal knowledge of a woman who is not his wife without her consent, or with consent, which has been extorted by threats or fear of bodily harm, or obtained by personating the woman’s husband, or by false and fraudulent representations as to the nature and quality of the act. 

S. 266(3) of the 1892 Code defined “carnal knowledge” as “complete upon penetration to any, even the slightest degree, and even without the emission of seed,” which is pretty much the same definition we now have for sexual intercourse under s. 4(5). Just a year later in the 1893 Code, the definition of carnal knowledge was moved from s.266 and placed under s. 4, but as the Code was amended, the definition moved from s. 4 to s. 7 to s. 3(6) in the 1953 Criminal Code when “carnal knowledge” was changed to “sexual intercourse.”

The crime of rape was finally abandoned in 1982-83 amendments to be replaced by the more general offence of “sexual assault,” being an intentional application of force, of a sexual nature, without consent. Thus the concept of rape, committed by a man on a woman who is not his wife and requiring sexual intercourse, is simply one example of a sexual assault.

This historical context does not however explain why the definition of “sexual intercourse” still remains on the books. As I said the definition remains for a past and present reason. It remains for the past as past convictions for rape and other specific sexual offences requiring the commission of sexual intercourse, such as sexual intercourse with a female under 14 years of age, are “primary designated offences” and relevant in a long term or dangerous offender application under Part XXIV of the Code. The term is also used in the procedure for gathering DNA samples under 487.05 of the Code and in the procedure for gathering sex offender information under s. 490.011.

There is also a clear connection to the present as there are still offences in the Code, which require proof of sexual intercourse as part of the prohibited act or actus reus of the crime. The offences are under the procuring section of the Code and require the offender to either procure or solicit a person to have “illicit sexual intercourse” under s. 212(1)(a) or to entice a person to a bawdy house to perform “illicit sexual intercourse” under 212(1)(b) or as in s. 212(1)(i), apply and administer a “drug, intoxicating liquor, matter or thing with intent to stupefy or overpower that person in order thereby to enable any person to have illicit sexual intercourse with that person.”

Sections 4(6), 4(6.01), and 4(7) are all related to the third “s” word, service, and the proof of when documents have been served on an offender. Sections 4(6.1) and (7) were added to the Criminal Code in 2008. Section 4(6.1) reads as follows:

Despite subsection (6), the service of documents may be proved in accordance with the laws of a province relating to offences created by the laws of that province.

This section was added to the Code to provide criminal law consistency with s. 40 of Canada Evidence Act, which provides for a similar rule in civil cases. Section 4(7) permits the court, hearing the matter, to require the attendance of the person who served the documents for examination or cross-examination on the issue of service.

Section 4(6) is not a new section and is important for the prosecution of driving over 80 offences as section 258 permits the admission of a certificate of a qualified breathalyzer technician as proof of the blood alcohol concentration of the accused. However, the document is only admissible if, according to s. 258(7), the accused receives reasonable notice of the intention to produce the document. As the server of this document is a police officer, section 4(6) permits the proof of notice by documentary evidence, which is certified in writing by the police officer. Section 4(6) reads as follows:

For the purposes of this Act, the service of any document and the giving or sending of any notice may be proved

(a) by oral evidence given under oath by, or by the affidavit or solemn declaration of, the person claiming to have served, given or sent it; or

(b) in the case of a peace officer, by a statement in writing certifying that the document was served or the notice was given or sent by the peace officer, and such a statement is deemed to be a statement made under oath.

This section, which essentially relieves the Crown from calling the officer who served the documents, has not gone without some controversy in case law. Some cases suggest the written statement as contemplated by s. 4(6)(b) is not enough to show proof of service of the notice of intention to produce a breathalyzer certificate, particularly where the serving officer is called to testify and he has no independent recollection of serving the notice. For further reading on this issue read R v Graham.

That is the end of my discussion of section 4 of the Criminal Code found under Part I, the General Part. In the next podcast, I will onto section 5 where we will consider military matters.



Ideablawg Podcast Episode 7 on sections 4(4) to (7) on The Three "S" Words