Sexual assault is a common offence in our Criminal Justice System, and a charge that our Sydney-based sexual assault lawyers are adept at handling. Our criminal law firm has extensive experience representing clients facing sexual assault charges, whether allegations result from a drunken night out, claims of assault from decades ago, or claims of sexual or indecent assault from a vengeful ex-partners.
The clients we have represented are often those without any criminal history at all, finding themselves facing a jail sentence. It is the type of offence that can be easily charged, evidence often being manufactured or embellished by the alleged victim.
All too often our clients are faced with false allegations, and are forced to face extremely serious criminal charges, and suffer social degradation as a result of the charges.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is any sexual act that someone does not want or is unable to consent to, including penetration, oral sex, incest, as well as unwanted and inappropriate sexual touching. Sexual assault does not have to involved alcohol or drugs, but it is more likely that it will occur while someone is under the influence of substances.
Consent is the fundamental concept at the core of all sexual assault cases. Consent is when someone freely and voluntarily, without coercion, intimidation or threat, agrees to sexual intimacy. Sexual partners must receive active consent, it cannot be assumed. Consent can also not be given by a person who is incoherently and uncontrollably drunk or high, or unconscious. If the victim does not consent to the sexual activity, touching or act, then it constitutes sexual assault.
What makes sexual offences so complex, and often difficult to prosecute, is that there is often a distinct lack of evidence, hearsay, and “he-said, she-said” regarding consent or alleged lack thereof.
How Serious is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is an extremely serious charges that almost inevitably leads to a sentence of full time imprisonment, if found guilty. It is important that you instruct an experienced sexual assault criminal lawyer if you have been charged or anticipate that you will be charged.
Crimes Act 1900 No 40 6L1
This subdivision of the Crimes Act states: “Any person who has sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of the other person and who knows that the other person does not consent to the sexual intercourse is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.”
What is the Difference Between Sexual Assault, Sexual Abuse and Indecent Assault?
Important legal distinctions have been drawn to distinguish between the different kinds of sexual offences that can be committed against adults and children. These distinctions include sexual touching (indecent assault), sexual assault and sexual abuse.
Sexual assault involves sexual intercourse (any kind of penetration i.e. oral, digital, genital) with another person without obtaining consent from that person. It is a serious charge and carries a 14 year maximum jail term. There are also more extreme subdivisions of sexual assault like aggravated sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault in company, which both carry exponentially harsher prison sentences..
The Crimes Act 1900 No 40 66EA defines sexual abuse as any unlawful sexual relationship which is carried out between an adult and a child (a person under the age of 16 years). What constitutes this “relationship” is the engagement of two or more unlawful sexual acts with the child over any period. This is also a serious crime, and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Sexual touching relates to the criminal offence of sexually touching an alleged victim without their consent, or inciting a third party to sexually touch the victim or vice versa. This is usually a lesser charge, and carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
What are Circumstances of Sexual Assault?
Unfortunately, sexual assault can occur anywhere, at any time. However, it is also incredibly common for sexual assault to occur privately, and between people who know each other. This makes sexual assault a complex case for prosecutors, as it is often difficult to acquire clear, convincing, physical evidence of the assault in question.
What are the Charges of Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault covers a wide range of sexual offences, including sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault in company and assault with intent to have sexual intercourse, all of which are covered in detail in the Crimes Act 1900 No 40.
What Are Your Options When Charged With Sexual Assault?
Plead not guilty:
In order to be convicted of this offence, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had nonconsensual sexual intercourse with a person and that you knew the other person did not consent or were reckless in that fact. If this cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt, then you will be found not guilty of the offence.
Our experienced criminal lawyers will advise you of your prospects of successfully defending any charge brought against you and fight to have you found not guilty of the offence.
If you agree with what the police are alleging against you, the way to get the best result is often to plead guilty as it demonstrates remorse and contrition as well as meaning that you will be entitled to a discount on your sentence. Alternatively, it may be the case that one of our experienced solicitors can negotiate with prosecutors for you to plead guilty to a less serious charge.
The offence of Sexual Assault carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment in the District Court. Sexual Assault is considered an extremely serious offence. We advise that you contact an experienced sexual assault lawyer immediately if you are charged with this offence.