Police investigations into allegations of a sexual nature are now more commonplace than ever before. High profile failings by the police and Crown Prosecution Service in a previous era mean that investigations of this nature have been given additional impetus and focus. The following is intended to be a short guide for those under investigation or charged with an offence of a sexual nature.
What is a sexual offence?
There are wide range of different sexual offences. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 consolidated and updated previous law and legislation in this area. Any alleged offence which took place after 20 November 2003 will be investigated (and if applicable prosecuted) by reference to this Act. Any alleged offence which took place before this date will be investigated by reference to the previous legislation.
What will happen if I am accused of sexual offence?
The police are likely to want to interview you under caution in the first instance. In most circumstances, this interview will take place in voluntary conditions but it is possible that you could be arrested. Please see our guide to police investigations and interviews.
What will happen after I am interviewed?
You are likely to be ‘released under investigation’ or on bail (although there are restrictions on police bail). The case is likely to be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision to be made as to whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant a prosecution.
What is ‘consent’?
The definition of ‘consent’ can now be found in section 74 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 as agreement by choice, where there is freedom and capacity to make that choice. There are certain ‘presumptions’ about consent contained in sections 75 and 76 of the Act. However, it is important to recognise that the relevant provisions require the prosecution to prove that the accused did not have reasonable belief in consent.
Some sexual offences are technically classed as ‘either-way’ offences. This means that you will be able to elect to be tried in the Crown Court by a jury. In practice, the Magistrates’ Court will often decline jurisdiction in any event. More serious offences, such as rape are triable only in the Crown Court. See our separate guide for Crown Court trials. Your solicitor will brief a barrister to represent you at trial.
Why instruct Brett Wilson LLP?
Our London based team of Criminal defence solicitors is listed in Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500 as a leading firm in the field of criminal defence. Brett Wilson LLP’s criminal defence team is headed up by Nick Brett, who is ranked as a leading individual in both directories. We are frequently instructed by corporates, professionals and high net worth individuals who prioritise the protection of their reputation and require expert help with a police investigation or prosecution. Our sex crime solicitors specialise in providing legal advice & representation for sexual assault offences & have a proven track record defending cases.
How do I Instruct Brett Wilson LLP?
You should contact one of our team to discuss your case and arrange a preliminary consultation. At the consultation we will advise you on the investigation, talk through the relevant practical and legal issues, and set out your options. We will review relevant documentation ahead of the consultation. The consultation will help you understand your position and allow you to make an informed decision about what action to take. We will provide you with details of our fee structure.
Consultations take place in our London offices or by Skype/telephone. We can also travel to you.
To request a consultation please send us an email, complete our online enquiry form or call us on 020 3811 2829. If emailing or using the online form, please provide a short outline of your situation.
Details of the cost of a consultation will be provided following your enquiry.