Section 67 of The Serious Crime Act 2015 inserts a new section 15A into the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Helen Holder of Kangs Solicitors examines this new offence (’the new offence’) which comes into force on the 3rd April 2017.
The New Offence | Kangs Solicitors Defending Sexual Abuse Allegations
The new offence is committed when:
(1) A person aged 18 or over (A) commits an offence if—
(a) for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification, A intentionally communicates with another person (B),
(b) the communication is sexual or is intended to encourage B to make (whether to A or to another) a communication that is sexual, and
(c) B is under 16 and A does not reasonably believe that B is 16 or over.
(2) For the purposes of this section, a communication is sexual if—
(a) any part of it relates to sexual activity, or
(b) a reasonable person would, in all the circumstances but regardless of any person’s purpose, consider any part of the communication to be sexual;
and in paragraph (a) “sexual activity” means an activity that a reasonable person would, in all the circumstances but regardless of any person’s purpose, consider to be sexual.
‘Sexual Gratification’ | Kangs Crime Specialists
The term “sexual gratification” is already used in the context of other offences of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which prohibits engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child and causing a child to watch a sexual act.
It is clear from case law that the prosecution would succeed where, either a defendant made a relevant communication in order to obtain immediate sexual gratification or, the obtaining of such gratification was part of a longer term plan, or both.
Case law states that “sexual gratification” has a wide meaning and may take many forms.
Court Jurisdiction | Kangs Criminal Trial Solicitors
The new offence is an ‘either-way offence’ meaning it can be dealt with either in the Magistrates’ or the Crown Court.
The offence carries a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment in the Crown Court and will mean an automatic placement on the Sex Offenders Register.
Purpose Of The New Offence | Kangs Criminal Defence Team
The new offence criminalises conduct where an adult intentionally communicates, for example, by e-mail, text message, written note or orally, with a child under 16, whom the adult does not reasonably believe to be aged 16 or over, for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification, if the communication is sexual or intended to encourage the child to make a communication that is sexual.
The new offence is designed to ensure that it does not criminalise, for example, ordinary social or educational interactions between children and adults or communications between young people themselves.
How might the new offence be committed? | Kangs Criminal Advisory Solicitors
Scenarios likely to be covered by the new offence include talking sexually to a child via a chatroom or sending sexually explicit text messages to a child as well as inviting a child to communicate sexually, irrespective of whether the invitation is itself sexual .
Kangs Recent Cases | Defending Historical Sexual Abuse Cases
Kangs Solicitors have a wealth and breadth of dealing with serious sexual offences and can fully advise you on the law and your options should you find yourself being investigated or prosecuted with regard to any alleged sexual offence.
A recent selection of our work in this area includes:
- Client Cleared of Two Historic Rape Charges
- Client Found Not Guilty of Rape
- Found Not Guilty of Historic Sexual Abuse
- Acquitted of Sexual Assault Allegation
- Not Guilty Verdicts in Historic Sexual Abuse Case
- Two Clients Cleared of Sexual Abuse Charges
Who Can I Contact? | Kangs Criminal Defence Solicitors
Our team of lawyers is here to help you so please feel free to contact any one of the following: