Criminal Law

Smith’s client acquitted of human trafficking

By Jennifer Pritchett, Associate Editor

A man who was represented by Toronto criminal lawyer Tyler Smith has been acquitted of human trafficking charges after a five-week jury trial in Superior Court in Oshawa.

“The problem for the complainant was that her evidence from her police statement to the preliminary hearing to the trial was inconsistent,” Smith tells AdvocateDaily.com.

With inconsistencies in the complainant’s testimony, the judge cautioned the jury about the importance of scrutiny in their assessment of the portion of her evidence for which there is no corroboration, he says.

Smith, a partner with Hicks Adams LLP, represented one of three accused persons in the jury trial.

His client was acquitted of one count each of human trafficking an individual under 18 and receiving a material benefit from trafficking someone under 18, and sexual assault. He was found guilty of one count each of facilitating sexual services for consideration (s. 286 of the Criminal Code) and receiving a material benefit for facilitating sexual services for consideration.

The other two co-accused were acquitted of the human trafficking and sexual assault offences and convicted of the two charges related to facilitating sexual services for consideration, Smith says.

All three individuals will be sentenced at a later date.

Smith says their lawyers plan to launch a constitutional challenge of the five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for facilitating sexual services for consideration.

He notes that a guilty verdict for that offence carries the same mandatory minimum sentence of five years as that of human trafficking, when only human trafficking involves exploitation, violence, or the threat of violence, to exercise control over the victim.

“The thing about proving human trafficking is that it requires that the Crown establish that the person who was trafficked was exploited and that the trafficker exercised control over them through violence or threats of violence,” he says.

Facilitating sexual services for consideration involves none of that, but it carries the same penalty, Smith adds.

“We think that is unconstitutional,” he says.

Smith plans to argue that challenge at a future hearing.

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