Indecent act with or in the presence of a child aged under 16

If you have been charged with indecent act with or in the presence of child aged under 16, here is some information to know and consider in seeking legal advice with Emma Turnbull Lawyers.

Elements of the offence

For the prosecution to prove the offence of indecent act with or in the presence of a child aged under 16 they must satisfy three elements of the offence. They can be found in s 49F of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) and are as follows:

  1. The accused committed or was party to the commission of an act;
  2. The act was indecent;
  3. The act was with or in the presence of a person who was under the age of 16; and
  4. The accused intended to take part in the act.

Will I have to go to court?

Charges for indecent act with or in the presence of a child aged under 16 will usually be heard in the County Court or Supreme Court, as the penalty for the offence is significant. The serious nature of the charge means that a sentence of imprisonment is often handed down. A charge for this offence may or may not be heard by a jury.
Once the case goes to court, it is up to the prosecution to prove the elements of the offence. It is important that you seek expert legal advice in building a defence as the circumstances surrounding the events that led to the charge can assist in a strong defence argument.

Maximum penalty:

The maximum penalty a charge for indecent act with or in the presence of a child aged under 16 is 10 years imprisonment, known as Level 5 imprisonment.

What sentences are usually given?

According to the Sentencing Council Victoria, between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2016, 1355 people were sentenced with indecent act with or in the presence of a child aged under 16 as the principal offence. From that number, 76.9% were given imprisonment sentences. The maximum length of imprisonment given was 5.5 years, and the median length of imprisonment sentences given was 2 years. Non-imprisonment sentences included Community Corrections Orders (10.3%) and Wholly Suspended Sentences (5.8%).

What do I do now?

There are limited statutory exceptions defences to this charge, found in s 49 of the Crimes Act 1958. To ensure the best chance of a successful defence, it is important to get in contact with an expert criminal lawyer as soon as possible. At Emma Turnbull Lawyers, we have experienced criminal defence lawyers who can assist you in defending this charge.