Criminal Offences

Child Sex Offences / Grooming

Sexual assault charges are perceived as very serious crimes, even more so when a child is involved. There are numerous actions that may constitute a child sex offence all of which have significant maximum penalties. These offences are found in various sections of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and consist of the following:

  • 66A Sexual Intercourse with a child under 10
    1. Any person who has sexual intercourse with a child who is under the age of 10 years is guilty of an offence.
  • 66B Attempting, or assaulting with intent, to have sexual intercourse with a child under 10
    1. Any person who attempts to have sexual intercourse with another person who is under the age of 10 years, or assaults any such person with intent to have sexual intercourse, shall be liable to imprisonment.
  • 66C Sexual intercourse and aggravated sexual intercourse with a child between 10 and 16
    1. Child between 10 and 14: Any person who has sexual intercourse with another person who is of or above the age of 10 years and under the age of 14 years is liable to imprisonment.
    2. Child between 10 and 14 – aggravated offence: Any person who has sexual intercourse with another person who is of or above the age of 10 years and under the age of 14 years in circumstances of aggravation is liable to imprisonment.
    3. Child between 14 and 16: Any person who has sexual intercourse with another person who is or above the age of 14 years and under the age of 16 years is liable to imprisonment.
    4. Child between 14 and 16 – aggravated offence: Any person who has sexual intercourse with another person who is of or above the age of 14 years and under the age of 16 years in circumstances of aggravation is liable to imprisonment for 12 years.
  • 66EA Persistent sexual abuse of a child
    1. A person who, on 3 or more separate occasions occurring on separate days during any period, engages in conduct in relation to a particular child that constitutes a sexual offence is liable to imprisonment.
  • 66EB Procuring or grooming a child under 16 for unlawful sexual activity
    2. Procuring children: An adult person who intentionally procures a child for unlawful sexual activity with that or any other person is guilty of an offence.

    2a. Meeting child following grooming: An adult person:

    1. Who intentionally meets a child, or travels with the intention of meeting a child, whom the adult person has groomed for sexual purposes, and
    2. Who does so with the intention of procuring the child for unlawful sexual activity with that adult person or another other person is guilty of an offence.
    2b. For the purposes of subsection (2A), a child has been “groomed for sexual purposes” by an adult if, on one or more previous occasions, the adult person has engaged in conduct that exposed the child to indecent material.

    3. Grooming children: An adult person:

    1. Who engages in any conduct that exposes a child to indecent material or provides a child with an intoxicating substance,
    2. Who does so with the intention of making it easier to procure the child for unlawful sexual activity with that or any other person is guilty of an offence.

    It is important to remember in cases relating to sexual assault charges and acts of indecency, consent is a frequently discussed topic. In accordance to NSW law, any child under the age of 16 is unable to give consent, and therefore offenders will be liable to punishment as per the Crimes Act.

PENALTIES

As there are many crimes that constitute a child sex offence, there are also a variety of associated penalties. Generally speaking, the younger the child, the more severe the penalty. As per the Crimes Act 1900 the maximum penalties for child sex offences are listed below.

              • 66A Sexual Intercourse with a child under 10: Imprisonment for life
              • 66B Attempting, or assaulting with intent, to have sexual intercourse with a child under 10: Imprisonment for 25 years
              • 66C Sexual intercourse and aggravated sexual intercourse with a child between 10 and 16
                1. Child between 10 and 14: Imprisonment for 16 years.
                2. Child between 10 and 14 – aggravated offence: Imprisonment for 20 years.
                3. Child between 14 and 16: Imprisonment for 10 years.
                4. Child between 14 and 16 – aggravated offence: Imprisonment for 12 years.
              • 66EA Persistent sexual abuse of a child: Imprisonment for 25 years
              • 66EB Procuring or grooming a child under 16 for unlawful sexual activity

2. Procuring children:

  1. In the case the child is under 14 years: Imprisonment for 15 years, or
  2. In any other case, imprisonment for 12 years.

2a. Meeting child following grooming:

  1. In the case the child is under 14 years: Imprisonment for 15 years, or
  2. In any other case, imprisonment for 12 years.

3. Grooming children:

  1. In the case the child is under 14 years: Imprisonment for 12 years, or
  2. In any other case, imprisonment for 10 years.

Due to the seriousness of these crimes, imprisonment is likely. However, the Court has the ability to impose a reduced term of imprisonment or alternative punishments in appropriate cases. Alternative punishments that the Court may decide to implement include home detention where an individual is subject to electronic monitoring and strict supervision, fines, suspended sentences, community service orders or intensive correction orders.

GUILTY

If you personally agree that you are guilty of any of the above child sex offences, and the Police are also able to prove this claim, you have the option to plead guilty to the charges set out against you. In this instance, the case will then proceed to sentencing in which you will be facing the maximum penalty associated with your specific charge. It is important to know that these crimes are taken very seriously in the Court and imprisonment is likely.

However, in some instances pleading guilty may actually be more favourable in the Court as it typically showcases remorse for your actions. As a result, the Court may award individuals with a reduced sentence and potentially less serious charges. Some of the alternative punishments that a Court may enforce in appropriate circumstances include home detention, intensive correction orders, or community service.

For more accurate advice relating to the penalties that will enforced should you be found guilty, contact our criminal defence lawyers to organise a FREE first consultation.

NOT GUILTY

Should you plead not guilty to any of the child sex offences listed above, the case will proceed to a trial in which the the prosecution will have to establish and prove that you did commit the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution is unable to prove these facts, you will not be convicted of the offence.

However, if the prosecution is able to prove these facts, a conviction is likely to follow. In order to avoid this our well prepared criminal defence lawyers will also aim to negate the claims made by the prosecution through cross examination of witnesses and physical evidence. Our lawyers will also establish a relevant defence strategy in appropriate situations to cast doubt over the allegations made.

THE DEFENCE

If you or someone you know is facing charges relating to child sex offences it is advised to seek legal representation for expert criminal defence lawyers immediately. Should we represent you, we may be able to establish the following defences appropriate situations:

Honest and Reasonable Mistake: The Criminal Codes Act 1995 (Cth) defines circumstances in which a person will not be criminally responsible for particular offences. Under division 9, the Criminal Codes Act states:

9.1: Mistake of ignorance of the fact (fault elements other than negligence).

              1. A person is not criminally responsible for an offence that has a physical element for which there is fault element other than negligence if:
              2. a) at the time of the conduct constituting the physical element, the person is under a mistaken belief about, or is ignorant of, fact and
              3. b) the existence of that mistaken belief or ignorance negates any fault element applying to that physical element.
              1. In determining whether a person was under a mistaken belief about, or was ignorant of, fact, the tribunal of fact may consider whether the mistaken belief or ignorance was reasonable in the circumstances.

Therefore, it must be proven that there was a mistaken belief surrounding the incidence. A common example relating to child sex offences in when the accused was led to believe the victim was over the age of 16. This characters a reasonable mistaken belief in which the accused will be found not guilty of this particular charge.

Actual Innocence: A claim innocence is not sufficient enough to negate the claims of sexual assault. If evidence can be provided that proves that you were not involved in the offence, such as CCTV footage of you being at an alternative location when the offence took place, reasonable doubt will be cast on the allegations, in which you will be found not guilty.

WHICH COURT?

The severity amongst each of these matters differs greatly. Generally speaking, less serious offences will be finalised in the Local Court. More significant crimes, such as the offence sexual intercourse with a child under 10 which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, are indictable offences and therefore will be dealt with at the District or Supreme Court .

As leading criminal defence lawyers, Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders has extensive experience in representing clients at various Court locations throughout NSW and have even won cases in the NSW Supreme Court. Our Sydney based sexual assault lawyers will advise you on the relevant Court that you will need to attend and are dedicated to achieving the best outcome possible regardless of which Court the matter will be heard in.

Contact our leading criminal law firm now for a FREE first consultation.