Bawdy House Offences


A bawdy house is a place of business that is kept, occupied or resorted to by more than one person and is used for the purpose of the practice of indecent acts.

In order for the Crown to prove indecency, the following two elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

(1) the nature and conduct in issue causes harm or presents a risk of harm to individuals or society in a way that undermines or threatens to undermine a value reflected in the Constitution or other similarly fundamental laws. It is not based on individual notion of harm, nor on the teachings of any particular ideology, but rather on what society, through its fundamental laws, has recognized as essential. Examples would include confronting the public with conduct that significantly interferes with their autonomy and liberty, predisposing others to anti-social behaviour, or physically or psychologically harming persons involved in the conduct; and

(2) that the harm or risk of harm is incompatible with the proper functioning of society.





The penalties for a bawdy house conviction depend on how the accused person was connected to the place where the conduct occurred. Where the person is convicted of keeping a bawdy house, the matter is an indictment matter with a maximum penalty of 2 years in custody. Where the accused person is charged with being

(a) an inmate of the bawdy house,

(b) found in the bawdy house without a lawful excuse for being there, or

(c) an owner, landlord, occupier or controller of the place, the matter is proceeded by way of summary conviction with a maximum penalty of 6 months in custody.

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