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Suspected crimes concerning historic sexual abuse are among some of the most challenging to handle in the UK justice system. The relevant law in this area will depend on precisely when a crime is alleged to have been committed, and a court case concerning allegations of historic sexual abuse can be incredibly difficult for all those involved.

At Lewis Nedas, we understand that cases involving alleged historic sexual abuse demand careful and expert handling. Our team have a significant amount of experience in assisting clients to defend against allegations of having committed historic sexual abuse. If you are concerned about being accused of having committed historic sexual abuse, contact our specialist defence team today.

What law will apply to a claim for historic sexual abuse?

It is difficult to determine what piece of legislation will apply to claims of historic sexual abuse. Where a crime is alleged to have been committed after 1 May 2004 will be charged under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Suspected crimes to have been committed before 2004 will be dealt with under the Sexual Offences Act 1956.

What crimes are covered by the legislation?

Taken together, both the 2004 and 1956 Acts cover a variety of crimes. Each offence, if charged, carries specific legal and evidential requirements. Some of the principal offences concerning historic sexual abuse include:

1. Rape

This crime concerns intentional penetration without consent. A successful prosecution for rape will carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, but will require strong evidence of the lack of consent.

2. Sexual Assault

As an offence, sexual assault concerns a person intentionally touching someone in a sexual way to which they have not consented. The penalty for this offence will either by the maximum available in the Magistrates’ court, or ten years imprisonment in the Crown Court.

3. Offences against children

This covers a variety of different offences of children below the ages of 18, 16 and 13 including causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity; sexual activity with a child as well as arranging and facilitating a child sex offence. The penalties that are open to the prosecution vary according to the severity of the offence but include an extensive period of imprisonment.  

4. Unlawful sexual intercourse

As a matter of law, the crime of unlawful sexual intercourse relates to intercourse between a man and a girl under the age of 16. It must be said that there are exceptions to this crime, but much will depend on the age of the girl and the existence of any underlying relationship between the parties.    

When dealing with historical claims of sexual abuse, it is not uncommon for the prosecution to bring criminal charges under the 1956 Act. While the 1956 Act has been largely replaced by the 2003 legislation, certain provisions remain active, with distinct legal requirements that the prosecution must meet in order to be successful.

It is important to understand that a delay in the reporting of suspected sexual abuse is not a bar to the police or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) from investigating the complaint, and prosecuting it where there is sufficient supporting evidence.

Regardless as to what piece of legislation will apply, the presumption of innocence of an accused will remain in cases concerning alleged historic sexual abuse. The law places the burden of proof on the prosecuting authorities, to be able to demonstrate that the alleged crime took place. However, the highly sensitive and serious nature of these types of allegations means its necessary to mount as strong a defence as possible.

How can a defence to a claim of historic sexual abuse be made?

The defence to any claims of historic sexual abuse must be comprehensive. In almost all cases there will be little to no evidence (physical or scientific) in support of any allegations. As a result, prosecuting authorities will place a great deal of emphasis on securing convincing pieces of evidence through:

  • Witness statements – these documents will contain the accounts of the complainant, their family/ friends and possible police officers.
  • Third party disclosures – this covers medical reports, psychological evaluations and documentation from social services agencies.

Taken together these different pieces of evidence will contribute a significant amount of material. In order to make a credible defence, and test the resolve of prosecuting authorities to pursue their case, a robust defence statement should be drafted according to a specific defence strategy. The document will normally outline where there are inconsistencies or errors in the prosecuting authority’s case. Furthermore where it is drafted properly, it may prove sufficient to quash any further action being taken against an individual, where significant doubt is cast on prosecutors chances of succeeding at trial. It is therefore vitally important that those accused of historic sexual offences instruct expert criminal defence lawyers, who are familiar with handling allegations of historic sexual abuse.

Contact Lewis Nedas’ specialist defence team for historic sexual abuse allegations in the UK

At Lewis Nedas we have developed specialist knowledge and experience in representing individuals accused of having committed historic sexual abuse. Our team are acutely aware of the impact that being faced with such allegations can have on people, and their families. Our defence team will conduct a comprehensive review of all of the evidence that is being used to support the allegations made against you. Our approach to criminal defence work is distinctive among our competitors, in that we are willing to test prosecutor’s case to its limit: if there are anomalies or weaknesses in any line of argument, our team will expose and exploit it.

If you have been charged with having committed historic sexual abuse and are in need of specialist, effective legal advice, speak to our team today. We will work with you to ensure that you are afforded the best legal representation possible, and will ensure that you are appropriately advised at every stage of legal proceedings. Contact us today and see how we can help you.

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