Sentencing For Sexual Offences against Children

Sentencing For Sexual Offences against Children

If you are being questioned or charged with having committed sexual offences against a child it is advisable that you look into the punishment and the factors that could affect it, as listed in Section 9 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Culpability and Harm
When passing sentence, the court must consider the culpability of the offender and the harm caused to the victim. If you are culpable, it means that you are deserving of blame. In that case, the culpability of the offender will indicate the seriousness of the crime. Alongside this, the court also measure the nature of the sexual activity, to provide a guide as to the seriousness of the harm caused to the victim.
In all cases, sentences must be considered for public protection. This is to ensure that sexual offenders are not released into the community if they present a significant risk to the people of that community.
Other factors taken into consideration will be:

  • The age and degree of vulnerability of the child i.e. the younger the child the more vulnerable they are.
  • The gap in age between the offender and the victim.
  • The age and immaturity of the offender.
  • A breach of trust i.e. family, professional or guardian relationship with the child.

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors
When being sentenced by the court, there are two kinds of factors that they will take into consideration when making their decision. Aggravating factors are things they will consider that could make your punishment more severe. In this case, the aggravating factors are the offender ejaculating or causing the victim to ejaculate, threatening the victim not to report the incident and the offender being aware that they are suffering from a sexually transmitted disease.
Mitigating factors are the opposite of this and could make your punishment more lenient. In this case, they will take into account whether there is a small disparity in age between the offender and victim.  The age of the offender is also a consideration because if the offender is particularly young then this shows immaturity which is a mitigating factor.
Past Offences
With all crimes, previous offences are likely to ensure a more severe sentence, especially if the offence is relevant to a previous misdemeanour. If a person has a history of sexual offences against children for instance, then their punishment is likely to be much greater than it would be for a first time offence.
Sentencing Guidelines
Here is an outline of the sentencing guidelines for sexual offences against children. As stated in the official guidelines “No precise advice can be given. The appropriate sentence is likely to lie within a very wide bracket”. Due to the amount of variables involved in an offence such as this, sentences are likely to differ widely. However, there are four guidelines that offer the starting points of jail sentences, depending on the severity of the sexual offence.

Type Of Activity Starting points Sentence Ranges
Penile penetration of vagina, anus or mouth, or penetration of vagina or anus with another body part or object. 4 years 3-7 years
Contact between naked genitalia of offender and naked genitalia or other part of victims’ body. 2 years 1-4 years
Contact between naked genitalia of offender or victim and clothed genitalia of offender or victim. 12 months 26 weeks-2 years
Contact between part of offender’s body (other than genitalia) with part of victims’ body (other than genitalia). Community order An appropriate non-custodial sentence

If you or someone you know has been charged with the sexual offence of a child and require expert legal representation, we strongly recommend that you contact us for professional and confidential legal advice. Give us a call on 01244 344 299 or click here and go to our online contact form.