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Sexual Offences

Sexual Offences

What constitutes a sexual offence?

This offence comes under section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, and is when an individual intentionally touches another person sexually, without the other's consent. In brief, one may be guilty of sexual assault where there is any sort of sexual contact against the will of the other. The maximum penalty which this offence carries is 10 years imprisonment.

Rape is another type of sexual offence which is defined in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The maximum sentence for this is life imprisonment.

What will the Crown Prosecution Service consider when deciding to charge someone with a sexual offense?

With regard to these types of offences it would normally be a case where the victim consents to forensic examination which would prove whether or not sexual contact had been made. What therefore is disputed a lot of the time is whether or not the victim consented to the contact which had been made. What is important to note is that consent once given can also be withdrawn at any time. In terms of the CPS charging an individual with sexual assault, the issue of consent would be considered from the viewpoint of the victim, ie in their statement are they saying that they consented, did not consent, or withdrew consent?

How can a solicitor assist?

A solicitor can be valuable from the start of such cases. Given that these types of offences carry with them the possibility of lengthy custodial sentences it is in the interests of those being investigated/charged to receive the best advice possible, be that to lessen the chance of them incriminating themselves, to plead guilty early or even to proceed to trial and receive the best advice and representation at this stage. ULA Solicitors will always advice based on the evidence and your instructions.

Fees?

Individuals facing a charge relating to a sexual offence would be entitled to free legal representation under the government's legal aid scheme should they qualify. Again the individual would qualify if they are earning under a certain amount, and if it is seen to be in the interests of justice that the individual be represented. Most of the time if the individual is of a good character, or the circumstances of the offence make it more serious it would be seen to be in the interests of justice that the individual be represented.

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