Blog Post

What is a SOIRA Order and Can I Terminate it Early?

1.     What is SOIRA and a SOIRA order?

SOIRA is an acronym standing for Sexual Offender Information Registry Act. This federal statute is responsible for the obligations that go along with a SOIRA order. As the name implies, SOIRA is concerned with the registration of individuals convicted of sexual offences in a national database.

The intended purpose of SOIRA is to assist police services across Canada in the prevention and investigation of sexual offences. In effect, a SOIRA order requires individuals convicted of select offences to report at a police station or RCMP detachment, placing them on a national database of individuals who have been convicted of the same select offences.

If you’re subject to a SOIRA order, you’ll be happy to hear that only the RCMP and police services can access the national database. In the United States, the sex offender registry is publicly available leading to the misconception that the same is true in Canada.

While SOIRA is concerned with the obligations of registered individuals and the administration of the national database, the Criminal Code of Canada is responsible for the mechanism leading to a SOIRA order. Specifically, section 490.011 of the Code sets out which offences can lead to a SOIRA order and section 490.012 sets out how a SOIRA order can be made.

The list of offences for which a conviction can lead to a SOIRA order is extensive but includes, by way of example, the following offences:

  • sexual assault
  • incest
  • child pornography
  • sexual offences against a child
  • sex trafficking

Before 2011, a SOIRA order was not guaranteed after a conviction of the aforementioned sexual offences. Due to amendments in 2011, a SOIRA order is now a mandatory consequence of being convicted of a sexual offence.

2.     What are the obligations imposed by a SOIRA order?

In Alberta, a person subject to a SOIRA order must report in-person at the appropriate location: the police station, RCMP detachment, or aboriginal police service headquarters that is nearest to their primary residence.

When a SOIRA order is made, the affected person must report with seven days of it being made. Subsequently, the person must report every year after for the duration of the order. Additionally, if the person moves, changes their legal name, or receives either a driver’s licence or passport, they must report within seven days.

When reporting, the person must provide their name and any alias they use, their date of birth, gender, phone number, their address(es), their place of employment (if any), their place of education (if any), and other personal details.

3.     How long is a SOIRA order?

The duration of a SOIRA order depends on the offence for which the person was convicted. nevertheless, the duration is of a SOIRA order is always one of the following:

  • 10 years;
  • 20 years; or
  • Lifetime

4.     Can I end my SOIRA order early?

We understand that a SOIRA order can be cumbersome and seriously effect your livelihood. For those subject to a SOIRA order, the good news is that the order can be terminated early. The bad news is that there are several caveats to this.

Like all things law-related, terminating a SOIRA order is more complicated than it may first appear to be. The following are just some of the considerations that can hinder one’s ability to have a SOIRA order terminated.

First, a SOIRA order can only be terminated after the first half of its duration has lapsed or, in the case of a lifetime SOIRA order, after 20 years. In other words, if you’re subject to a 10 year SOIRA order, you must wait five years and, if you’re subject to a 20 year SOIRA order, you must wait 10 years.

Second, the SOIRA order can only be terminated after a successful application heard in court. If the SOIRA order was made by a justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench, then the application to terminate the order must also be made in the Court of Queen’s Bench. If the SOIRA order was made in provincial court then the application may also be heard in provincial court.

Third, and finally, an applicant seeking to have their SOIRA order terminated must demonstrate that the order’s impact on their privacy and freedom exceeds the public’s interest in preventing and investigating sexual offences. This is a difficult threshold to meet and we recommend that you retain a criminal defence lawyer that can assist you with proving in court the impact that a SOIRA order has had on you.

At Muenz Criminal Law, we would be happy to answer any questions you have regarding SOIRA orders. Contact us here for a free consultation

Written by Thomas Scholten