If you are under investigation for ‘Sexual Communication with a Child’, our team of specialist solicitors can assist you.

Reeds Solicitors have many years of experience in handling allegations of a sexual nature. We understand that for many individuals, this may be the first time they’ve been arrested. Facing allegations can be a harrowing experience, especially when the allegations are sexual in nature. This can put a strain on existing relationships, reputations and even put your career in danger.

Please reach out for expert advice as soon as possible. Call 01865 260 230 or contact Reeds Solicitors LLP on info@reeds.com.


Sexual Communication with a Child

Technology as a means of communication has flourished over the last 10 years. Social media, messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Kik, as well as internet chat rooms have become common place and connect us like never before. This can be a positive for society when used appropriately.

However, often such platforms have poor control over who accesses their product and even poorer control over whether they are the people they claim to be. This has led to a proliferation of people pretending to be other people. As bizarre as it sounds, such devices are awash with men pretending to be women, women pretending to be men, adults pretending to children and children pretending to be adults. Anyone could be anyone.

In 2014 the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) ran a campaign which suggested that a new offence was needed to target people who communicate sexually with children.

The result of government consultation was Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015, that inserted Section 15A into the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

The link to the Legislation can be found here.

The legislation is most commonly used to prosecute individuals who have been messaging children sexual or indecent communication through social media, chatrooms or messenger services.

Below is a series of frequently asked questions regarding the offence:


What is the legal definition of “Sexual Communication”?

The legislation defines sexual communication as follows:

  1. (2) For the purposes of this section, a communication is sexual if—
    1. (a) any part of it relates to sexual activity, or
    2. (b) a reasonable person would, in all the circumstances but regardless of any person’s purpose, consider any part of the communication to be sexual.

Careful consideration must be given whether the communication has surpassed mere “sexual communication” and has incited a child to engage in sexual activity. Inciting a child to engage in sexual activity is a more serious offence and charged under S.10 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Where possible it is necessary to avoid such a prosecution due to the potential for more onerous sentences. If you are being investigated for such an offence you should seek advice on this issue at the earliest opportunity.


What is the legal definition of a child?

The definition of ‘child’ varies between offences in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Generally, a child is defined as anyone under the age of 16 but there are some offences designed to give greater protection to those under the age of 13 and others where the definition of ‘child’ extends to anyone under the age of 18.

For the purposes of S.15a Sexual Communication with a Child, a child is defined as someone under the age of 16.


What if I accidentally have sexual communication with a child under 16?

The offence requires that the child be under 16 and the person communicating does not reasonably believe that B is 16 or over. This means if you reasonably believed the person to be over 16 you are not guilty of the offence.

Careful consideration would need to be given in relation to the nature and context of the communication before this is asserted as a defence. If you are being investigated for such an offence you should seek advice on this issue.


Will I go to prison for this offence?

This is a complicated question. The maximum sentence for this offence is 2 years custody.

The Sentencing Council’s guidance note is found at this link.

It is important to note this is consultation only at present. However, it is a useful guide to understanding how the Court will approach a sentencing hearing. You will see that all starting points for each category are custody. This indicative that the court treat these cases extremely seriously. It can therefore be said that convictions for indecent images offence often result in custodial sentences.

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 will likely be ordered to serve his sentence in the community with the Probation Service. The Court also has the opportunity to consider a community order with the probation service.

There is a myriad of factors that go towards achieving a suspended sentence or community order and it would be wise to speak with a lawyer at the earliest available opportunity to discuss your options. If you are in this position call 01865 260 230 or contact Reeds Solicitors LLP on info@reeds.com.


Will I be placed on the Sexual Offenders Register is convicted?

Yes, a person convicted of this offence is subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offender’s Register.


Could I be subject to any other Order?

The Court may also consider imposing a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), or a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO). If you wish to read further information on these issues please follow the links provided.


How can Reeds LLP help someone under investigation for this offence?

Reeds Solicitors LLP can assist someone in a variety of ways.

Firstly, it is important to get our expert legal advice on your specific circumstances. At Reeds we have several senior lawyers who specialise in sexual offences.

After your initial consultation we can talk through your options, that includes pre-charge assistance, expert instructions, representations, defence case preparation and high-quality advocacy.

For more information, please consider reviewing the information on the main page regarding sexual offences.


Sexual Communication with a Child Case Results

R V A (2022) – Scott Primmer secures a suspended sentence for an individual convicted of his second offence of Sexual Communication with a Child

R V B (2021) Scott Primmer and Counsel, Peter Du Feu, secure a community order for a vulnerable adult convicted of Sexual Communication with a Child.


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