Sentences for sexual conduct involving minors can be severe, even where no sexual activity took place - or indeed even where no child even existed. If you have been charged with such an offence, naturally you will be concerned about what kind of sentence you can expect. There have been several recent cases involving adults chatting with minors online which have had a significant impact on sentencing.
However, there are several ways in which a specialist sexual offences defence solicitor can help you. In this article we look at sentencing for attempted sexual offences in respect of internet chatting with minors, and how a solicitor can help to minimise your sentence. We may be able to help you avoid a prison sentence.
The law is strict when it comes to chatting with people under the age of 16 online. You may be charged with an offence even where it turns out that the person you have been chatting to is not in fact a child, but an undercover police officer or vigilante.
Reed & Others v The Queen (2021) EWCA Crim 572 is a judgement on six cases that were listed together because they all raised matters of sentencing in child sex offences cases where no sexual activity had taken place. Across the six cases, there were several different reasons as to why no sexual activity had taken place:
- Where the defendant was chatting to an undercover police officer;
- Where the defendant failed to convince the child to enter into any sexual activity;
- Where the defendant stopped of their own accord;
- Where something interfered with the defendant’s plans;
Sentencing of child sex offences where no sexual activity took place
The case sets out how such cases should be sentenced. It is outlined that the starting point for sentencing is the assessment of intended harm. This means that the starting point for a sentence will be assessed on the basis of what the defendant intended to do to the child, regardless of whether it happened or not. The court will look closely at the intentions of the defendant and all of the circumstances of the case.
There is now little to no distinction in sentencing between cases where sexual activity has taken place and cases where the defendant attempts to arrange sexual activity.
However, a specialist sexual offences defence solicitor can help you to mitigate your sentence.
The sentencing judge may adjust the sentence downward if no actual sexual activity took place. How much the judge will adjust the sentence will depend on the facts of your case. Our solicitors can build a strong case for your defence, presenting every relevant fact with strong supporting evidence.
Where a defendant ceased to continue with their course of conduct as an early stage, the case sets out that there should be a larger reduction in sentence. We will fight to ensure you receive the largest reduction in your sentence based on the facts of your case.
Contact our Internet Sex Crime Defence Lawyers (Yorkshire, London, Birmingham, Manchester)