An unlawful sexual relationship with a child is a major indictable offence in South Australia under Section 50 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) is now referred to as “sexual abuse of a child” due with the introduction of a new Bill in Parliament’s Legislative Council. The Bill does not change the elements of the offence, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse.
What is the Penalty For Unlawful Sexual Relationship With a Child?
In South Australia, an adult (anyone aged 18 and over) found maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child can face severe life changing consequences. This offense could lead to life imprisonment, the maximum penalty imposed by law. It is therefore crucial to speak with an expert criminal defence lawyer specialising in child sex cases. Our Adelaide criminal lawyers have successfully represented individuals charged with serious sexual offences on numerous occasions and regularly appear throughout all Courts in South Australia.
What Is an Unlawful Sexual Relationship?
An unlawful sexual relationship is one where an adult engages in two or more unlawful sexual acts with a child over any period. An unlawful sexual act refers to any act considered a sexual offence under Division 11 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 SA (Rape and Other Sexual Offences. However, this does not include other offences in Division 11 such as abduction of person, permitting an individual under the age of 17 to engage in sexual intercourse at their home, procuring a child to commit an indecent act, sexual servitude and related offence, bestiality or incest.
Helpful Questions & Answers
What Does the Prosecution Have to Prove?
If a person is charged under section 50 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA), the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) must convince a judge or jury of the existence of the relationship beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Prosecution is required to establish the general nature and character of the acts, but not the exact details of each sexual act. Moreover, if the trier of fact is a jury, they do not need to agree on which specific acts constitute the unlawful sexual relationship. They must be satisfied, however, with the overall nature of the acts.
The very mischief the relationship offence seeks to address is to remove the requirement to prove particular offences to found the offence. This is achieved by making the maintaining of an unlawful relationship, rather than the particular unlawful sexual acts underlying it, the illegal act of the offence. It also clearly removes the requirement for extended jury agreement as to the underlying sexual acts.
The serious nature of this offence is a reflection of Australia’s commitment to protect the rights and wellbeing of children.
Are There Any Defences For Having an Unlawful Sexual Relationship With a Child?
Our experienced criminal defence lawyers have successfully defended individuals charged with having an unlawful sexual relationship with a child by arguing that:
- Lack of Evidence: If the Prosecution cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused maintained an unlawful sexual relationship with a child, then this can be a strong defence.
- Mistaken Identity: If the accused can provide evidence that they were not the adult involved in the alleged sexual relationship, they can claim mistaken identity as a defence.
- False Accusations: If the accused can provide evidence suggesting they have been falsely accused of the offence, this can form a defence.
What Happens After Being Charged With Having an Unlawful Sexual Relationship With a Child?
Following a police interview and upon being charged for having an unlawful sexual relationship with a child, the accused appears in the Magistrates Court of South Australia, and the case may later be committed to the District Court for trial or sentencing.
If you are charged with this offence, you should seek legal representation and advice at the earliest opportunity from a specialist criminal defence lawyer. Our experienced criminal lawyers can assist you with the preparation of your defence and represent you at Court hearings in the Magistrates Court, District Court and Supreme Court of South Australia.
If you are guilty of the offence, we can assist you by entering your plea of guilty and making submissions on your behalf to try and get the penalty reduced.