Facing Charges or have been charged with Historic Sex Crimes?
Individuals accused of historic sex offences can feel as though they are plunged into a whirlpool of distress, uncertainty and gossip while they are being investigated. Previously good reputations can be ruined beyond repair where false historic sex abuse accusations are made.
The historic sex crime lawyers at Qamar Solicitors have years of experience advising and representing clients facing historic sex offence charges. We know that our clients need sensitivity and discretion throughout the case. Fortunately, for those accused of historic sex offences there are invariably unique problems because of the passage of time. There may, for instance, be little or no firm physical evidence of abuse; people’s memories fade; and charges are often based solely on the accusations of the complainants. This means it is usually a difficult task for the police to gather enough evidence to bring charges. What amounts to ‘historic sex’ offences? There is no definitive definition of historic sex abuse. Generally, historic sex crimes are sexual offence that took place decades ago. Typically, allegations relate to historic sex abuse offences in an educational institution, care home, or religious setting, or in other circumstances where the accused was in a position of authority.
Whilst some accusations are, quite simply, false and motivated by revenge or malice; others are genuine allegations made by victims who may have taken years to find the courage to make a formal complaint to the police. However, even if the complainant has a genuine complaint, the reliability of their evidence can be doubtful because of confused recall of events, lack of clarity as the identity of the perpetrator, and doubts as to the accuracy of the allegations. That said, the criminal justice system seeks to protect victims as far as it can where there is a case to answer, and this means historic sex offenders are being brought to justice. For instance, recently we have seen Rolf Harris, Max Clifford, Fred Talbot, and an 81-year-old Koran teacher, all convicted for historic sex offences – and sent to prison. These recent successful prosecutions mean the police and the CPS are increasingly willing to bring prosecutions – even without substantial evidence corroborating the allegations.
What does the law say?
The law that applied when the alleged offences took place was likely to have been the Sexual Offences Act 1956 which has since been repealed. Today, the law is set out in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which introduced new, specific sex offences and sentencing. However, the criminal law cannot be applied retrospectively, which means that the law which existed at the time of the alleged offences is that which must be applied. This, for example, is why Rolf Harris was charged (and subsequently convicted) of seven counts of indecent assault on a woman contrary to section 14 of the 1956 Act for offences that took place between 1971 and 2004. Isn’t it too late to be charged? Reporting historic sex abuse years, or even decades, later does not mean it is too late for historic sex charges to be brought. There is no limitation period for sex offences, which means that an individual can be charged with an offence however long ago the alleged offence took place. So if allegations are made against you which date back 50 years – you could still be charged with historic sex crimes. What sentence could be passed on conviction for historic sex offences? Sentencing partly depends on the legislation under which the individual is charged. When sentencing defendants under the Sexual Offences Act 1956, or other legislation that pre-dates the 2003 Act, the court must apply certain principles – including that the defendant must be sentenced in accordance with the sentencing regime applicable at the date of sentence. This will depend on the seriousness of the offence/s. However, importantly the sentence will be limited to the maximum sentence available at the date of the commission of the offence.
What should I do?
If you have been accused of historic sex crimes, it is vital to take urgent legal advice as soon as possible because you could be formally charged. The expert historic sex offences lawyers at Qamar Solicitors have successfully defended clients who have been accused of historic sex abuse. We are adept at advising our clients who are under investigation for sex offences, whether or not for historic sex offences, with absolute discretion. We will help you defend the charges in order to achieve the best possible outcome – an acquittal and the restoration of your reputation.
Contact us now at 01924 488 199 – or email firstname.lastname@example.org.