Sections 5 – 8 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 create four offences in relation to offences committed on children under the age of 13.
The offences are:
- Section 5 – Rape – it is an offence for a person intentionally to penetrate with his penis the vagina, anus or mouth of a child under 13;
- Section 6 – Assault By Penetration – it is an offence for a person intentionally to penetrate sexually the vagina, or anus of a child under 13 with a part of his body, or with anything else;
- Section 7 – Sexual Assault – it is an offence for a person to touch a child under 13 sexually;
- Section 8 – Causing Or Inciting a Child under 13 to Engage in Sexual Activity – it is an offence for a person intentionally to cause or incite a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity.
The Issue Of Consent
Consent in relation to the above offences is irrelevant, and offers no defence to the crime.
Government has decided that a child under the age of 13 is not able to consent in any circumstances to any form of sexual activity.
It is not a defence to have a reasonable belief that the child was not under 13.
What Do The Prosecution Have To Prove?
For the Prosecution to obtain a conviction for these offences they only have to prove two things:
- That the sexual activity took place and was intentional;
- The age of the complainant at the date the activity took place.
The Court Procedure
Sections 5 and 6 are indictable only offences which can only be dealt with in the Crown Court and carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Section 7 is an either way offence and can be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court.
The more serious offences will be sent to the Crown Court, where the maximum sentence is 14 years imprisonment.
Section 8 can be indictable only if penetration is involved and for which a life sentence is the maximum sentence. If the activity does not involve penetration, the offence is either way with a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.
More 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.
To discuss an allegation of a sexual offence involving a child under 13 in further detail contact: