Leading solicitors defending sexual communication with a child offences (Manchester & London)
Olliers’ team of specialist lawyers can assist if you are under investigation for sexual communication offences.
What is sexual communication with a child?
The communication must be sexual or intended to encourage a child to make a sexual communication.
Cut and dried exchanges of sexual texts, emails or conversations in chat rooms between adult and child, if the age of the child is clear, will almost certainly be deemed criminal and, if exposed or complained of, result in charge.
Age – Reasonable belief
A defence may be available if it can be shown that it was reasonably believed that the person with whom he/she was communicating was over 16.
There are many factors which the prosecution will take into account in relation to this.
It is becoming increasingly common for individuals or groups of individuals who are members of the public to use on-line activity to uncover or “catch” alleged paedophiles involved in on-line child sexual abuse or interested in meeting children for the purpose of such abuse.
There are a number of potential offences that could be charged contrary to the Sexual Offences Act 2000 instead of sexual communication with a child.
Potential offences include:
- Arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence contrary to section 14 of the 2003 Act.
- An attempt to commit an offence under section 15 of the 2003 Act of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming contrary to section 1 Criminal Attempts Act 1987.
- An attempt to commit an offence contrary to section 15A of the 2003 Act namely, sexual communication with a child.
- Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity contrary to sections 8 or 10 of the 2003 Act
- Indecent images of children (IIOC) offences. Click here to read more in relation to indecent images offences.
The CPS have specific guidance in relation to cases involving vigilante groups.
Undercover police officers
Evidence obtained by police or other activist groups can result in charges of arranging or facilitating a child sex offence. The fact that an offence may have been impossible has no bearing on the intention possessed at the time it was arranged or facilitated.
Offending behaviour could include communicating online with a person believed to a child, but who is in fact an undercover police officer or ‘vigilante’. That person then intentionally arranges to meet in order to commit a child sex offence.
Section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides the offence of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence. A person commits this offence if:
- He intentionally arranges or facilitates something that he intends to do, intends another person to do, or believes that another person will do, in any part of the world,
- and doing it will involve the commission of an offence under any of sections 9 to 13 of the Sexual offence Act 2003.
A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on conviction to up to 14 years imprisonment.
Could I go to prison for sexual communication with a child?
Sexual communication with a child is classed as an either-way offence, which means the case can be heard, either in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court.The offence carries a maximum custodial sentence of two years and therefore lead to being automatically placed on the Sex Offenders Register.
This does not necessarily mean that if you are found guilty, you will definitely receive a custody sentence. There is in fact a range of options available to the court when sentencing someone who has been found guilty. This range will depend on what category the offence falls in to i.e. the level of seriousness of the communications. The court will use a set of guidelines to determine an appropriate sentence. They will take into consideration both aggravating and mitigating factors which will differ depending on each individual case. Aggravating factors, which can adjust the sentence upwards, may be that the individual has relevant previous convictions or has abused a position of trust. On the other hand, mitigating factors could be that the individual has shown genuine remorse and has taken steps to address their behaviour, all of which can contribute to a reduction of sentence.
Could I go on the Sex Offenders Register?
If convicted of the offence then notification requirements will follow and you will have to comply with such requirements.
How can Olliers help me
We have many years of experience of dealing with allegations of a sexual nature and understand that for many individuals this may be their first involvement with the criminal justice system. Being arrested for the first time is a harrowing experience made worse when the allegation is a sexual one. Reputations, relationships and careers are on the line.
We understand how daunting the situation may be for you. We promise not to judge and seek to work together with you to achieve the best outcome. We aim to explain the process and procedures to you in clear and unambiguous language whilst at the same understanding the anxiety you face at the situation ahead.
Olliers take a pro-active approach for individuals who are under investigation for sexual offences and communication with a child offences.