If you are charged with any sex offence, it is important to seek legal advice and representation early.
In the past 30 years, Victoria has significantly codified sex offences and has increased the maximum sentences for those convicted of these types of crimes. Both the Magistrates’ Court and the County Court have established specialist lists that deal solely with sex offences. These specialist lists do not exist for any other type of criminal offence. This is why it is important that a person accused of committing a sexual offence is represented by lawyers who have experience not only in criminal law, but specifically in sex offences. It is important that an accused understands the offence, what the prosecution must prove and the options available to defend the allegation.
Sex offences include:
- Rape, section 38;
- Compelling another person to rape, section 38A;
- Procuring sexual penetration, sections 57 & 58;
- Sexual penetration of a child, sections 45 & 48;
- Persistent sexual abuse of a child, section 47A;
- Incest, section 44;
- Indecent assault, section 39;
- Assault with intent to rape, section 40,
- Sexual offences against persons with cognitive impairment, sections 51 & 52, and
- Sexual servitude, sections 60AB, 60AC, 60AD & 60AE.
In most offences, the prosecution must prove both the physical and mental element of the offence beyond reasonable doubt. For example, in order to prove an allegation of rape, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
- The complainant was not consenting and
- The accused intentionally sexually penetrated the complainant and, whilst doing so, knew that the complainant was not consenting or might not be consenting.
Changes to the law include defining what consent means and what a jury should be told about consent and the accused’s awareness of consent. Historically, it was enough to defend an allegation of sexual assault if the accused could show that he or she thought that the complainant was consenting. This has changed and the law now requires that the accused’s belief of consent be based on reasonable grounds.
Changes to the law also provide:
- The ability for victims to give evidence via a remote facility,
- Limiting the matters on which the complainant can be cross-examined, and
- Certain prohibitions on cross examination of children or other protected witnesses at committal proceedings.
If you are charged with any sex offence it is important to seek legal advice and representation early. At Lewenberg & Lewenberg, we can advise you of the defences available to you and how to best manage your case through the various Court proceedings.