Indecent Dealings With A Child
What is the offence?
Sections 320 and 321 of the Criminal Code make it an offence to indecently deal with a child. In relation to many sexual offences, lack of consent is a crucial element. However, the law recognises that children under a certain age are unable to give a valid consent. Therefore, consent in these types of cases is not an issue.
To “deal with”, for the purposes of indecent dealing is broad in its definition and includes committing any act of indecency towards a child, in the presence of a child, or procuring or encouraging a child to engage in indecent acts with another.
Various maximum penalties are made available under the Criminal Code for the offence of indecent dealings with a child. The penalties vary depending upon the age of the child and the particular circumstances.
A person is considered to have indecently dealt with a child, where they have committed the following acts:
- Sexual penetration of a child;
- Procuring, inciting or encouraging a child to engage in sexual behaviour;
- Indecently touching a child;
- Procuring, inciting or encouraging a child to do an indecent act; or
- Indecently records a child.
Penalties For Indecent Dealings With A Child
The various penalties are set out below:
- Where the child is under 13 years a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
- Where the child is over 13 years but under 16 years a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.
- Where the child is under 16 years and the child is under the care, supervision or authority of the offender a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
- Where the child is under 18 years and the child is under the care, supervision or authority of the offender a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
Given the seriousness of the offending, a term of immediate imprisonment would likely be imposed where a person is convicted under ss 320 and 321 of the Criminal Code and the imposition of a non-custodial penalty is rare.
Is there a defence?
It is a defence to a charge of indecent dealings with a child between the age of 13 and 16 years, if the accused believed on reasonable grounds that the child was of or over the age of 16 years and was not more than 3 years older than the child.
It is also a defence to a charge of indecent dealing with a child between 13 and 16 years to prove that the accused was lawfully married to the child.
We Can Help
Offences against a child are serious matters and carry tough penalties upon conviction in our state.
You can reach us on (08) 9278 2575.