Unless you have trained as a solicitor, it is unlikely that you will have any interest in the changes to the Sexual Offences Act. That is of course unless you have been accused of committing a sexual offence.
As guidelines and terminologies change within the law, it is easy for people who are outside of a legal profession to get things wrong or to be misinformed. And while the primary changes to the Sexual Offences Act of 2003 have also amended parts of the Protection of Children Act of 1978, it is important to know what these changes are if you have been accused of sexual misdemeanours with persons aged under 16 in the UK.
In the unfortunate event that you have, you will need to hire a sexual offence solicitor immediately to fight your corner. But it may also be worth knuckling down and highlighting some key points yourself, just so you will feel more comfortable about the ongoing investigation.
This article highlights the key changes in the Sexual Offences Act of 2003, in jargon-free language to help you with your upcoming case.
Any sexual offence solicitor worth their salt will explain to you the changes in the Act surrounding photography.
In the act of 2003, the meaning of a ‘child’ has changed in relation to age from 16 to 18, meaning that you could be charged with taking indecent photographs of an individual aged either 16 or 17. Another key point to remember is that this changes the issues surrounding consent in relation to photographs.
If you have been accused of taking indecent photographs, your sexual offence solicitor will aim to prove that it was necessary for you to take the photograph in relation to detecting criminal activity or for the purposes of criminal proceedings. In fact, pseudo photographs also fall into the category.
Of course, this change to the age of indecent photography raises questions in relation to marriage. As the minimum legal age of marriage in England and Wales is 16 years, this creates an issue if the photographs were taken with the consent of the person and in the confines of marriage.
If you and your partner married at 16 and your partner consented to the photographs being taken, then your solicitor will highlight these circumstances to the prosecution should your case go to court. Provided that the photograph only shows the child in question, consent and legally binding marriage are legally acceptable defences.
Of course, in relation to consent, it is tough to prove one way or another if someone consented or not. Unfortunately, if your current relationship with the person you took an alleged indecent photograph of has crumbled, they may insist that they did not consent.
In this case, you and your defence solicitor must prove that at the time the photograph was taken (or pseudo-photograph was created), that you had a reasonable belief that the person in the photograph consented to the photo or pseudo-photograph being made or taken.