Are you facing serious criminal charges relating to sexual touching offences in NSW, Australia? If so, you are likely feeling lost, overwhelmed, and unsure where to turn.
At LY Lawyers, we understand the immense seriousness and complexity of such cases and we invite you to explore our criminal defence services further.
Our team of highly experienced criminal defence lawyers is dedicated to providing aggressive and reliable representation for individuals like yourself who have been charged with sexual touching offences.
With over 20-years of hands-on experience, we are among the leading criminal lawyers in Sydney and NSW, offering our services across multiple offices and jurisdictions.
On this page we will explore the Australian legal system surrounding sexual touching offences and charges, including the associated penalties, defences, and distinctions.
What is Meant by Sexual Touching Offences?
Sexual touching offences are governed by section 61KC of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and Section 61HB of the Crimes Act 1900. These offences involve the unwanted and non-consensual touching of another person’s body, in a sexually inappropriate manner.
It is important to note that the new offence of sexual touching no longer requires proof of indecency, which was a requirement under the older offence of Indecent Assault. As such, it is paramount that you have the best possible legal representation so you can build a solid defence against these serious allegations.
If you or someone that you know have been sexually assaulted and are currently in distress, we would like to refer you to the following sexual assault support services.
What Does the Prosecution Set Out to Prove in Sexual Touching Offence Cases?
In order to prove a sexual touching offence, the prosecution must first establish the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- A person sexually touched another person (the alleged victim) or incited someone else to do so against their will.
- The alleged victim did not consent to the sexual touching.
- The accused knew that the alleged victim did not consent and proceeded anyway.
It is crucial to understand that sexual touching encompasses any form of physical contact, whether it involves direct contact with the body itself or through clothing.
The court considers a number of different factors, including the area of the body that was touched and the intent / perceived intent behind the touching – to determine whether a reasonable person would consider it to be sexual in nature.
What Are the Different Types of Sexual Touching Offences?
Sexual touching offences cover a wide range of situations and actions. Some of these specific types of sexual touching offences include:
- Sexual Assault: Involves the intentional and non-consensual sexual touching of another person, which may include acts such as intimate groping or fondling.
- Aggravated Sexual Assault: Aggravated Sexual Assault refers to sexual touching offences committed under aggravating circumstances, such as via the use of force, (i.e., Aggravated Sexual Act), in the presence of weapons, or with the involvement of multiple perpetrators (i.e., Aggravated Sexual Assault in Company).
- Aggravated Indecent Assault: Aggravated Indecent Assault refers to the physical assault of another person, in circumstances of aggravation, which may include an act of indecency at the time of, immediately before, or immediately after the assault itself.
- Grooming: Involves actions aimed at preparing or enticing a child under the age of 16 for engaging in sexual activity. Grooming can include communication, providing gifts, or any other means to establish trust and ultimately manipulate the child into engaging in sexual activity.
- Possession of Child Pornography: Involves the possession, distribution, or production of explicit child abuse material involving children and the accused.
- For further information, we refer you to the Judicial Commissions of New South Wales.
What Are the Penalties Associated with Sexual Touching Offences?
The penalties associated with sexual touching offences in NSW can vary significantly depending on the specific circumstances of the case, and indeed the severity of the offence / whether or not the accused is being charged with child sex offences.
If the matter is dealt with in the Local Court, the maximum penalty can be imprisonment for two years. However, if the prosecutor elects to have the matter dealt with in the District Court, the maximum penalty increases to imprisonment for five years – and a maximum of seven years if the charges include aggravated sexual touching.
It is important to consult with an experienced criminal defence lawyer who can assess your case, gather evidence, and develop a strong defence strategy tailored to your situation.
What Are the Defences?
When facing sexual touching charges, it is crucial to explore all possible defences. Common defences in sexual touching cases may include:
- Consent: If you can demonstrate that the alleged victim consented to the sexual touching, it can serve as a suitable defence. However, it is essential to note that consent must be freely given and informed, without any coercion or manipulation.
- Honest and Reasonable Mistake: If you genuinely believed that the alleged victim consented to the sexual touching and your belief was reasonable under the circumstances, it may be a viable defence.
- Lack of Intent: If you can establish that the sexual touching was accidental or unintentional, it may, under some circumstances, be a defence against the charges.
What Are Your Options in Court?
When facing sexual touching charges, you have several options in court. These may include:
- Pleading Not Guilty: If you believe you are innocent beyond a doubt, or have a valid defence, you can plead not guilty and proceed to trial. In this case our experienced criminal defence lawyers will help you build a robust defence strategy, challenge the prosecution’s evidence, and fight for your acquittal.
- Negotiating a Plea Bargain: In some cases, it may be beneficial to negotiate with the prosecution for a lesser charge or reduced penalties through a plea bargain. Our skilled lawyers can guide you through this complex process and strive to achieve the most favourable outcome on your behalf.
- Seeking Diversion Programs: For less serious sexual touching offences, diversion programs may be available. These programs aim to address the underlying issues and provide rehabilitation as opposed to punishment.