Olliers’ team of specialist lawyers can assist you if you are under investigation for indecent images offences.
Indecent images offences
With the advent of the internet and social media the nature of these offences has changed over the years and the courts now grade the images from Category A (most serious) to Category C and whether such images were simply in possession or were distributed. The sentences vary depending on the categorisation and number of images.
What are indecent images?
There are three categories imposed in relation to indecent images:
- Category A: Explicit material involving penetration, sexual activity with an animal or sadism.
- Category B: Explicit material that is non-penetrative sexual activity.
- Category C: Explicit material involving erotic posing.
This categorisation is relatively new but the defences to allegations of possession and distribution remain the same.
Defences to possession of indecent images
- Legitimate reason. This is rarely used. The accused would have to show a ‘legitimate reason’ . The Courts are likely to approach this defence with a degree of cynicism.
- Lack of awareness. The accused would have to prove that he had not seen the images and had no cause to suspect them to be indecent. In these cases we can work in conjunction with our panel of forensic experts. We have dealt with clients where they have been unaware such images exist as they may only be accessible using forensic tools. It is possible that the images came to be on the device inadvertently during browsing of legal pornography or pop ups. This affords a defence.
- Unsolicited images. The accused has a defence if the photograph in question was sent to him without any prior request by him or on his behalf, and that he did not keep it for an unreasonable time.
- Marriage and other relationships. This can be used where the photograph in question is of a 16/17 year old spouse.
- Criminal Proceedings. Where professionals or law enforcement bodies are in possession of such images.
- Are the images ‘ indecent ‘? This ultimately will be a matter for the Jury to decide based upon society’s definition of ‘indecent’. Pictures of naked children are not always indecent (a pertinent example of this being the album cover of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’).
- Reasonable belief. Did the Accused have a reasonable belief the images are of persons aged 18 or over?
Have you had electronic devices seized?
Few things can be more stressful for an individual than to have the several police officers attend at their home address armed with warrants for the seizure of computers, tablets and mobile phone. The police will have obtained a warrant for the seizure of equipment believed to contain indecent, prohibited or extreme pornographic material. They will be gathering evidence in connection with making and/or possessing indecent images of children and the possession of extreme pornographic material.
Attendance at a property is without warning and may take place in front of family members and be witnessed by neighbours and in some case by work colleagues. In some circumstances the police carry out an arrest, although not always. A person is frequently left in limbo, awaiting the outcome of the analysis seized items – a process that can take between six and 12 months.
How can Olliers help me?
At Olliers we regularly speak to clients who have had computer equipment and phones seized by the police. On the one hand it is a waiting game but there is still a lot that can be done.
We always ensure that we make early contact with the police. We will confirm the anticipated timeframe for the investigation with the police and obtain an assurance that any further contact will be through Olliers, ensuring that there is no embarrassment caused by a police visit to home or workplace.
We can discuss with our clients the circumstances that may have led to their material being seized. We will give our clients an opportunity to discuss any anxiety they may feel. Many want to discuss worst case scenarios and we can advise on the different offences of possessing, distributing and producing indecent images. We can also explain the different categories of offences as well as current sentencing guidelines.
What can be done at this stage?
Olliers can assist with mitigating features, which can include;
- previous good character and/or exemplary conduct
- age and/or lack of maturity
- mental disorder or learning disability
- evidence of steps taken to address offending or seek help
If a client recognises that they may need help we can point them in the direction of organisations that can help at a very early stage. If a client is charged and is ultimately advised to plead guilty, evidence of any early help sought can be powerful mitigation.
Will I be charged with an offence of indecent images?
In some circumstances, images may be of low level category and we may look to argue that a prosecution is not in the public interest. This may be particularly relevant to a case where a client may have sought help for a problem and where there is other, powerful mitigation. The best time to do this is before charge but it can also be done after charge.
If you have had computer equipment seized and are under investigation for indecent images offences, there is no public funding available, except for a police interview under caution. However this is a crucial time and action taken at this stage can make a fundamental difference to the outcome. Our lawyers try to be as transparent as possible in relation to fees. We will charge fees based upon an hourly rate as agreed from the outset and provide estimates as to total likely costs. These estimates will be regularly updated. Alternatively, we may agree a fee for representing you either in respect of a particular stage of a case or for the case in its entirety.
Contact our indecent images offences team
Please contact our team if you would like to arrange a confidential discussion as to how Olliers can assist you if you are under investigation for indecent images offences.