Sexual offences are, understandably, a particularly sensitive and complex area of law. Allegations of sexual misconduct can be difficult to defend because of the public attention they attract. The nature of the crimes also means that it is often the complainant’s word against the defendant’s. Further, the impact of an allegation of a sexual offence can be devastating for all those involved and their families. As such, it’s important to contact solicitors who are experienced in defending such claims.
Criminal Solicitors for Sexual Offence Defence
You will need lawyers who are pro-active, tenacious and discreet, and whom are as experienced as the prosecuting teams that you are facing.
You will also need criminal defence lawyers who are experienced in managing the consequences allegations of sexual misconduct can have on your career and livelihood. For example, most professionals must report accepting a caution or post conviction registration as a sex offender to their regulator, which may result in them being prohibited from practising their profession. Our sexual offences criminal defence lawyers have vast experience providing careful advice and navigating post conviction and ancillary orders, from initial representation to appeals.
Defending Historic Sexual Abuse Cases
One of the most emotive and controversial aspects of sexual offences defence work concerns historic sexual abuse cases.
This is a complex, unsettled area, where prosecutions are often based on the complainant’s word against that of the defendant. There is no time limit on when these offences can be prosecuted in the UK, e.g. a good example of one of the oldest cases concerning these type of allegations originated 63 years ago (R v Davies). Nor does the amount of time that has lapsed since the alleged incident have any impact on how seriously the police and prosecuting authorities will take an allegation.
A particular difficulty is that many of these cases involve false or transferred memory; collusion; suggestibility and false confession, which require expert testimony and commentary. For these reasons and more, defending these cases is undoubtedly difficult. Further, despite claims that sexual offence cases have high attrition rates, societal pressures and preconceptions means prosecutions are on the increase.
At Lewis Nedas, we have achieved excellent results in sexual offence cases because of our immaculate attention to detail and our use of leading experts and barristers in this area. We focus upon the complainant’s credibility, as there is rarely any scientific or corroborative evidence, and robustly pursue the disclosure of evidence held by third parties such as social workers that regularly support our clients’ defence.
Our Approach to Sexual Offence Defence
Our thorough approach to sexual offences criminal defence means we regularly excel in defending sexual offences prosecutions, and our experience and expertise has led to a number of acquittals in these cases over the years. For example:
- Rape defence success - Leila Abdul-Rasool represented a client who was acquitted by unanimous verdict of attempted rape and indecent assault after a fully contested trial following an historic allegation. At the time of the alleged incident, the client was 19 and the victim 14 years — the client came to be arrested five years later. Due to the nature of the offence, Social Services became involved with his family and he was not allowed unsupervised contact with his children. However, following inconsistencies in the complainant’s account that may have amounted to perverting the course of justice, the client was unanimously found not guilty. Counsel was John Femi-Ola of 3 Temple Gardens;
- Criminal appeal success - Miles Herman acted for Sukhbir Dhillon who was convicted of sexual offences in a particularly high profile case which attracted much media interest. The conviction was overturned on the ground that the verdicts were inconsistent, with the Court of Appeal ordering against a re-trial. Mr Dhillon was magnificently represented by Sarah Whitehouse of Counsel (6 King's Bench Walk);
- Overturned conviction - Represented by Siobhain Egan, our client’s convictions of indecent assault were decreed to be unsafe by the Court of Appeal. Information uncovered by enquiry agent Stephen Cooper (www.falselyaccused.co.uk) indicated that the complainant had lied about the allegations. It was also discovered that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had failed to disclose, both to their own counsel and the defence, important contradictory information supplied by the complainant about the allegations which she had made. The client was ably represented by Nadine Radford QC;
- Criminal appeal success - Tony Meisels successfully appealed a condition of a Sexual Offence Prevention Order which prohibited the appellant from using any internet enabled device except for the purpose of his employment. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, lodged in part due to the appellant's heavy reliance on the internet for social and domestic purposes. The Court recognised the appellant's efforts towards rehabilitation since the time of his arrest and reworded the Sexual Offences Prevention Order to merely prohibit the appellant from using the internet to access child pornography. The case resulted in a leading judgment on how the courts determine the wording of Sexual Offences Prevention Orders as they relate to access to the Internet. Jeremy Lynn of Farringdon Chambers ably represented the appellant;
- Rape case charged dropped - Siobhain Egan represented a defendant facing an allegation of rape which involved a very well known television personality. However, due to Siobhain's continued efforts and representations made on behalf of the client, the CPS withdrew their allegations;
- Judge's commendation - HHJ Sheridan sitting at Wood Green Crown Court commended Sam Corcoran for her work when defending difficult and sensitive rape allegations. Her client was acquitted of both allegations. David Malone of 1 Gray's Inn Square was instructed as trial counsel;
- Rape acquittal - Unan Choudhury robustly defended a man charged with the offence of marital rape. Unan is a fluent Bengali speaker, as is the defendant and the vast majority of prosecution and defence witnesses. At one stage much concern was raised about the quality of the court interpreter's performance, so Unan was asked by the trial Judge to step in. He was praised by trial counsel for his commitment and dedication to the case. The defendant was brilliantly represented by Dee Connolly of counsel (3 Temple Gardens) who secured an acquittal from the jury after less than an hour's deliberation;
- Media coverage of sex trafficking case - Saima Hirji acted for Mahrookh Jamali, the principal of four defendants who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic persons within the UK for sexual exploitation, and conspiracy to incite prostitution for gain; a third change of conspiracy to facilitate the prostitution of a child having been dropped. She was sentenced to imprisonment for only two years and nine months. The case attracted enormous media attention and was reported widely (BBC, Sky News, The Guardian, The Daily Mail etc). Our client was magnificently represented by Dee Connolly of Counsel (The Chambers of John Coffey QC at 3 Temple Gardens).
Sentencing Guidelines for Sex Offences in the UK
As part of its ongoing overhaul of sentencing practice, the Sentencing Council introduced new guidelines for all sex offences in 2014. Here we highlight some of the most important changes that greatly impact sentencing for sexual offences.
Broadly, sentencing for many sex offences has increased to reflect the tendency of courts in recent years to impose tougher punishments. For instance, the highest category of a single count of rape now attracts a sentence of at least 15 years imprisonment. A greater focus on the victims of crime has also justified harsher sentences for offenders.
The features of a case that are viewed as aggravating an offence, and therefore attracting harsher punishment, are also widening. For example, the court is likely to impose a stricter sentence in sexual offence cases where a defendant used their good character or a position of trust to commit a crime. That good character may be an aggravating feature seems to be an inevitable consequence of Operation Yewtree, the investigation established in response to the Jimmy Saville revelations. This means that in some cases, especially where a famous person relies on their reputation to target a victim, a harsher penalty will be imposed following conviction.
Use of technology in the commission of sexual offences is also likely to be viewed as an aggravating factor for the purpose of sentencing. For example, the courts pay particular attention to social media being employed to make contact with victims; webcams enabling offences to be committed without the parties actually being in the company of each other; and, the recording of the offence.
Harsher Sentencing for Child Pornography & Historic Sexual Offences
The guidelines on sentencing sexual offences published by the Sentencing Council for England and Wales reflect much of the public concern about child pornography and historic sexual abuse. Sentencing is now tougher and prison sentences have increased markedly.
- In relation to child abuse images online, due to a huge upsurge in the commission of internet child pornography offences, guidelines shift the focus from numbers of images made or possessed to how the offender has used them;
- With regard to historic sexual offences, although offenders will be charged with crimes enshrined in the law at the time when the alleged incident was committed, they will be sentenced on the basis of the most recent guidance to reflect how maximum sentences have increased over the past half century.
If you are facing an allegation concerning a sexual offence it is imperative that you seek specialist advice from experienced solicitors who have an excellent, proven track record of success when defending these allegations. See our cases section on our website.
Sexual Offence Solicitors London – Contact Us
For further information or to speak to a top criminal defence lawyer please telephone us on 020 7387 2032, complete our online enquiry form or contact Jeffrey Lewis, Leila Abdul-Rasool, Siobhain Egan, Miles Herman, Tony Meisels, Penny Muir or Keith Wood.