Life Sentences and standard non-parole periods for child sex offences
Earlier this year the premier of NSW, Mike Baird announced the possibility that tougher laws regarding the acts of child sex offenders would become a reality. The current law relating to intercourse with a child under 10 can be found under section 66B of the Crimes Act 1900. According to the Act, any person convicted of “attempting to have sexual intercourse with someone who is under 10 years of age or someone who assaults any person who is under the age of 10 with the intent of having sexual intercourse” will be liable for up to 25 years imprisonment.
Under the tougher proposed laws any person convicted of sexual intercourse with a child aged under 10 will face the possibility of life in prison rather than the previous maximum sentence of 25 years.
In discussing the proposed changes to the law NSW Attorney- General Gabrielle Upton states that these laws will send a message to possible offenders in the “strongest possible sense”. In another statement it was stated that a reason for the tougher stance on these crimes was due to the seriousness of the offences and the hopes that increased jail time would cut down rates of people re-offending in the future.
It was noted however that the tougher stances on the law in regards to acts involving children would not “back-date” and therefore would not effect cases of this nature that have already taken place.
As well as tougher and longer maximum sentences for child sex offences against children aged under 10 years of age, it has also been proposed that 13 separate offences including grooming, prostitution and production of child abuse material would be placed on the standard non parole period scheme. Each of these offences, under the new laws, would attract standard non-parole periods, effectively putting a mechanism in place to influence courts to impose heavier sentences for these offences.
It is important to note however that the proposed changes to the law which would see an increase in the maximum sentences that could be handed down in cases relating to child sex offences only relates to the maximum sentence that may be handed down.
In most cases the sentence that is handed down is significantly lower than the maximum prescribed sentence. In regards to the offence of sexual intercourse with a child under 10 years of age, the standard non- parole period is 15 years for a matter that is in the middle range of objective seriousness and therefore is closer to what will likely be handed down as a penalty in a matter regarding this type of matter.
For more information on sexual assault type offences, click here.