Criminal Law

Offences Against A Child

The law in Western Australia recognises that children under a certain age cannot give valid consent to the sexual behaviour or acts of another. The law in WA recognises the vulnerability of children having the consideration to the clear differences of mental, emotional and physical maturity of a child compared to an adult. Under the Criminal Code, the minimum age that a child can consent to the behaviour of a sexual kind is 16 years. However where a child under the age of 18 is under the care, supervision and authority of an adult any procuring, inciting, or encouragement of/or actual sexual activity by the adult towards the child also becomes a serious offence.

Indecent Dealings With A Child

The Criminal Code makes it an offence to indecently dealing with a child. To “deal with”, for the purposes of indecent dealing is broad in its definition and includes committing any act of indecency 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. 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.


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. Have you recently been charged with an offence against a child? If so, contact the Andrew Williams Criminal Law Offices and speak with an experienced criminal lawyer. You can reach us on (08) 9278 2575.

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