man being inappropriate at work

Sexual offences – an introduction

Sexual offences are considered the most heinous crimes committed against a person as they violate basic human rights. In the UK, statistics have shown that over 3.8% of adults have experienced some form of sexual assault in the past year. So what crimes come under the umbrella of sexual offences? A sexual offence solicitor will define sexual offences as any crime that involves sexual intercourse and a lack of consent on the victim’s part. It is important to note that lack of consent is the essential part of the legal definition of sexual offences.

What are the main sexual offences?

There are a number of crimes that are considered sexual offences and these include rape, sexual assault, sexual offences committed against children, child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, child grooming.

All of these crimes carry prison sentences for perpetrators who are found guilty.

What happens when a case goes to court?

“The case can stay at the Magistrates Court or proceed to the Crown Court. In the hierarchy of courts, the crown court is second in seniority where a trial is heard before a jury. In the magistrates court, a trial is heard either before three lay magistrates or a District Judge.

At the crown court the case will be tried in front of a jury. This is made up of 12 members of the public who are not affiliated with the case whatsoever and are chosen at random.

woman defending herself

What is the difference between rape and sexual assault?

It is common to get confused between rape and sexual assault as they are both very similar sexual offences. The legal definition of rape is the penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth with the penis and there is no consent on the victim’s part. The legal definition of sexual assault is the penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth with any part of the body or an object and there is no consent on the victim’s part.

From the two legal definitions it can be seen that there is a slight difference. Sexual assault can be committed by both males and females whereas rape can only be committed by males. However in some cases women can be found guilty of rape if they have assisted a male perpetrator in committing rape.

Sentencing for rape and sexual assault

Rape carries the most harshest sentencing due to the nature and severity of the crime. When determining the level of sentencing to be handed, the judge will need to take into consideration the level of dangerousness. If the offender is deemed to be dangerous it means that the court thinks that letting the offender out into society again will cause significant harm to the public.

Rape carries a sentence of imprisonment and in some cases it carries life imprisonment. Other factors that the judge will consider is whether the perpetrator has committed any other crimes previously, and also the severity of those crimes and the level of danger to the general public, and their general character.

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