Historic sexual offences are those allegedly committed, normally, a long time before the alleged incident(s) are reported to the authorities and prosecuted.
As such offences now appear to be reported more frequently in the press, Helen Holder of Kangs Solicitors provides an insight into the relevant law covering such offences.
Allegations relating to sexual offences committed before the 1 May 2004 will be charged under the Sexual Offences Act 1956 as opposed to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 under which alleged offences after that date are prosecuted.
We have acted in many high-profile investigations such as the wide-ranging Metropolitan Police investigation ‘Operation Yewtree’.
Recognised as one of the leading criminal defence firms in the country, we are top ranked in Band 1 and Tier 1 for our work in this area by both the leading legal directories Chambers UK and the Legal 500.
For an initial no obligation discussion, please call our Team at any of our offices detailed below:
The Sexual Offences Act 1956 | Kangs Sexual Offences Advisory Solicitors
The most common offences charged under the Sexual Offences Act 1956 are:
- Unlawful sexual intercourse by a man with a girl under 16 or 13;
- Indecent assault on a woman;
- Indecent assault on a man.
Rape | Kangs Solicitors
Section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 states:
- It is an offence for a man to rape a woman or another man.
- A man commits rape if:
- He has sexual intercourse with a person (whether vaginal or anal) who at the time of the intercourse does not consent to it; and
- At the time he knows that that person does not consent to the intercourse or he is reckless as to whether that person consents to it.
A man also commits rape if he induces a married woman to have sexual intercourse with him by impersonating her husband.
- The offence is indictable only which means that it can only be tried in the Crown Court and carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
Unlawful Sexual Intercourse | Kangs Solicitors
- The Sexual Offences Act 1956 provides two separate offences:
- Section 5 – by a man with a girl under 13.
- Section 6 – by a man with a girl under 16.
- The difference between these offences and that of rape is that of consent. A charge of unlawful sexual intercourse will normally be appropriate if a girl consents to intercourse but she is under the age of consent.
- If the girl is under 13 years of age it is likely that charges will be instigated under public interest.
- When charged with an offence under section 6, there is a specific defence available if the defendant is under the age of 24 years, has not previously been charged with a like offence and he believes the female to be of the age of 16 or over and has reasonable cause for that belief.
- However, current guidance to Prosecutors is to the effect that even if a defendant is over 24, a prosecution may not be in the public interest if he had reasonable grounds to believe the girl was over 16. Other factors that will also be considered are:
- the ages of the parties and any gap between them;
- the emotional maturity of the girl and whether she entered into a sexual relationship willingly;
- the relationship between the parties and whether there was an existence of a duty of care or breach of trust.
- An offence under section 5 may only be tried in a Crown Court and, upon conviction, carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
- An offence under section 6 must be charged within twelve months of the alleged offence, may be tried either before a Magistrates’ Court or a Crown Court and carries a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment upon conviction.
Indecent Assault | Kangs Solicitors
- Section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 states:
- It is an offence, subject to the exception mentioned in subsection (3) of this section, for a person to make an indecent assault on a woman.
- Section 15 states:
- It is an offence for a person to make an indecent assault on a man.
- A child under the age of 16 cannot consent to an act which would otherwise be an assault. However, if the victim did consent again there are factors which the Prosecution would consider as to whether charges would be in the public interest such as:
- Age of the defendant in relation to the victim;
- The emotional maturity of the victim and whether the sexual relationship was entered into willingly;
- The relationship between the parties and the existence, or otherwise, of any duty of care or breach of trust;
- Any element of seduction;
- Whether the victim encouraged the defendant in any way.
- It is a defence, where the complainant is under 16, if the defendant held an honest belief that the complainant was 16 or over. That belief must be honest and genuine and does not need to be reasonable. However, the more unreasonable the belief the less likely it will be accepted as genuine.
- Both Section 14 and Section 15 offences are triable either before a Magistrates’ Court or a Crown with a maximum sentence on of ten years imprisonment.
Who Can I Contact For Advice & Help? | Kangs Sexual Offences Defence Solicitors
Clearly there are differences between the 2003 and the 1956 Act which effect charging and defence considerations.
If you have been accused, or anticipate that you may be accused, of committing a sexual offence of any nature, it is imperative that you seek immediate specialist advice.
In our experience, seeking early advice is essential once it is known an investigation is being conducted.
Crucially, it is always important to have a solicitor present in interview at the police station, whether it is an interview by appointment or under arrest.
Please do not hesitate to contact our team for an initial consultation through any of the following: