Section 4 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 defines the above offence as:
(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—
(a) he intentionally causes another person (B) to engage in an activity,
(b) the activity is sexual,
(c) B does not consent to engaging in the activity, and
(d) A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
(2) Whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps A has taken to ascertain whether B consents.
Want To Know More About The Offence?
The offence was created, in part, to establish an offence equivalent to rape that could be committed by a woman.
The offence can be committed by words alone and covers situations such as a victim being forced:
to carry out a sexual act involving their own person, such as masturbation,
to engage in sexual activity with a third party, who may be willing or not, or
to engage in sexual activity with the offender e.g. woman forces a man to penetrate her.
The issue in relation to whether the activity was sexual, as with the section 2 offence of assault by penetration , will be for the jury to decide, having heard all the facts of the case.
The Court Procedure
The offence of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent is an either way offence which can be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court.
However, if penetration has occurred, the matter can only be dealt with in the Crown Court and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
A number of matters will be taken into account when sentencing an individual convicted of this offence such as:
- the nature of the sexual activity
- the offender’s culpability.
Further details in relation to sentencing guidelines for sexual offences can be found here .
Who Can I Contact For Advice & Help?
It is imperative that you instruct an experienced solicitor as soon as you are aware of an allegation being made.
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.