If you are the subject of a police investigation or criminal court proceedings involving a historic sexual crime or indecent offenses, sexual abuse, accused of rape, accused of and are subject to an investigation regarding indecent images, this can be possessing or making indecent images you need specialist help. These charges could lead to lengthy prison sentences. To preserve your innocence it is crucial that you seek legal advice from a specialist solicitor experienced in this area of law. If you do not receive the advice needed in these very serious charges it can have a very negative impact on your reputation and cause harm to your family.
What is a sexual offense?
Under the Sexual Offenses Act 2003 consolidated and updated previous law and legislation in this area. There are wide range of different sexual offenses. Any alleged offense which took place after 20 November 2003 will be investigated (and if applicable prosecuted) by reference to this Act. Any alleged offense which took place before this date will be investigated by reference to the previous legislation (historic sexual offenses).
If accused of a sexual offense?
The police are likely to want to interview you under caution in the first instance. In most circumstances, this interview will take place in voluntary conditions but it is possible that you could be arrested.
At the police interview
You are likely to be ‘released under investigation’ or on bail (although there are restrictions on police bail). The case is likely to be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision to be made as to whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant a prosecution.
What is consent?
The definition of ‘consent’ is in s74 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 as agreement by choice, where there is freedom and capacity to make that choice. There are certain ‘presumptions’ about consent contained in sections 75 and 76 of the Act. However, it is important to recognize that the relevant provisions require the prosecution to prove that the accused did not have a reasonable belief in consent.
At the trial
Some sexual offenses are technically classed as ‘either-way’ offenses. This means that you will be able to elect to be tried in the Crown Court by a jury. In practice, the Magistrates’ Court will often decline jurisdiction in any event. More serious offenses, such as rape are triable only in the Crown Court.