Sexual Assault is a broad term that covers many different types of behaviour. The common theme however is non-consensual sexual touching. Of course, there are many serious offences of Sexual Assault that should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. However, in recent times we have also observed many situations that people would not necessarily believe are sexual assault, which have none the less been prosecuted. For example, the young lady on a ‘hen Do’ who grabbed a man’s bottom in the street. While the behaviour is clearly inappropriate, whether this behaviour is in the interest of justice to prosecute and whether this lady needs to be placed on the sexual Offenders register is debatable.
Equally, bars and nightclubs are places where consent and reasonable belief regarding consent, can be difficult areas to navigate. These cases can often be complicated matters for lawyers to resolve, and therefore often utterly baffling for someone who has been falsely accused.
Regardless, being accused of a sexual assault allegation can often be an anxious, confusing and frustrating experience. The accused will understandably be afraid about their career, family and his or her freedom. A person who faces a false allegation is one of the justice system’s biggest victims. It feels as though even the accusation itself can taint your reputation.
Not knowing how to deal with the allegations and how best to defend yourself makes a situation even harder. People who have never had any involvement with the police before making naïve mistakes and cause considerable damage to their defence early on in an investigation.
The Police are often unhelpful, and on occasion deceitful in explaining the gravity of the situation. They request that you come in for “a chat” when in reality they are unsympathetic to your situation, whilst putting together a case against you behind the scenes. We see many suspects effectively ambushed with voluntary interviews in these circumstances and they have not organised legal representation. Resulting in a poor interview, where they have not explained their defence well.
The Police have political pressures to secure convictions, while also operating under budgetary constraints that limit their investigations. Suspects are often told that Police are independent evidence gatherers, when in reality that is rarely the case. Witness statements are often not taken, CCTV not looked into, digital forensics not followed up.
This is why a suspect, and their legal representation, should not take a wait and see approach to a defence. It is best to be proactive and get out ahead of the investigation. Simply, if the Police do not undertake these enquiries, an effective defence will intervene and undertake the investigations and put the evidence in front of the Police so they cannot hear it.
This also helps show a jury your innocent should the matter proceed to trial. What guilty person investigates themselves?
This work can be undertaken both in the investigative stage and post charge. We would encourage you to read our guidance on our Sexual Offences page about how we can assist you.
If you are under investigation for sexual assault or have been charged with this offence, please reach out for expert advice as soon as possible. Call 01865 260 230 or contact Reeds Solicitors LLP on email@example.com. If you wish to contact us out of usual office hours, then phone 01865 920067.
What is the definition of sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is where one person intentionally touches another person sexually without their consent. The touching can be done with any part of the body or with an object.
What are common defences to sexual assault?
There are several potential defences to sexual assault and so it is important you get expert legal advice from a solicitor. However, the two most common are false/ malicious allegations and arguments regarding consent
People fabricate allegations for a variety of reasons. While we would all like to believe people would not be so vindictive or malicious, unfortunately that is not the case. They may have a perceived justification, or excuse however that is little comfort to the victim of malicious allegations who must undergo the process of demonstrating their innocence. If you are interested in this subject, you may wish to read this interview with Counsel, Alistair Grainger, on the reasons for malicious allegations. (Insert article link)
Consent is the most common defence to sexual assault. Among sexual offences relating to adult consent is frequently the central issue. People remember events differently, and the passage of time can distort accounts. Often sexual acts that are entirely consensual are reported as non-consensual and therefore offences. If consent is an issue in your case, it is often extremely important to raise this at the first opportunity, most often in your Police interview. This can remove or limit the possibility of the prosecution asking the jury to draw an adverse inference from your silence in interview under Section 34 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
Which court will hear my case?
Sexual Assault is an either way offence and this means your case can either be heard in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. The decision of which court hears the case is addressed at the first hearing in the Magistrates Court. The Magistrates will hear representations from both the prosecutor and defence regarding the best Court to hear their trial.
Can I have a jury trial?
Yes, as the case is an either way offence you have the right to elect a jury trial in the Crown Court. You should seek legal advice as to whether this is the right thing to do in your case prior to making this decision.
Will I go to prison?
This is a complicated question. Here’s a link to the relevant section of the sentencing guidelines (Sentencing Council’s website). You will see that a significant number of offence categorisations have a starting point of a custodial sentence. It can therefore be said that convictions for Sexual Assault often result in custodial sentences. However, you will also see that for lesser offences of sexual assault a community order can be secured.
It is also worth noting that any sentence under two years custody can be suspended. This means the defendant does not go to prison and could be ordered to serve his sentence in the community with the Probation Service.
There are a myriad of factors that go towards achieving a suspended sentence and it would be wise to speak with a lawyer at the earliest available opportunity to discuss your case and where it would fall on the guidelines. If you are in this position call 01865 260 230 or contact Reeds LLP on firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, please consider reviewing the information on the main page regarding sexual offences. Alternatively, contact us to discuss your situation through our contact us page.
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