Possession of child abuse material

If you have been charged with possession of child abuse material (formerly possession of child pornography before July 2017), 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 possession of child abuse material they must satisfy three elements of the offence. They can be found in s 51G of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) and are as follows:

  1. The accused was in possession of material;
  2. The material contained child abuse material; and
  3. The accused knew that the material contained child abuse material.

Will I have to go to court?

Charges for possession of child abuse material will usually be heard in the Magistrates’ Court. However, depending on the circumstances of the offence, and whether there are any other charges being faced, the case may be heard in the County Court. The serious nature of the charge means that a sentence of imprisonment is often handed down.

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 possession of child abuse material 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 2014, 212 people were sentenced with possession of child abuse material as the principal offence. From that number, 21.2% were given imprisonment sentences. Non-imprisonment sentences included Community Based Orders (44.8%) and fines (5.2%).

What do I do now?

There are a number of statutory defences to this charge, found in subsections of s 51 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.