The Penalties for Child Sex Offences in NSW

 

With advances in technology, parents are urged to be hyper-vigilant about who their children were conversing with online.

One of the parents of Jack Carpenter’s victims was reported saying, “check, double-check and if they think you are being invasive, be more invasive… monitor your children and look after them, because you don’t want to go through what our three families have been through”.

20-year-old, Jack Carpenter was convicted and sentenced to a term of nearly 5 years imprisonment from the Western Australia District Court for raping 2 teenage girls after luring the girls “into his perverted trap” using Facebook.

It’s reported that in July 2016, his first victim, who was 13 years-old, contacted Carpenter to ask him to purchase alcohol for her. With full knowledge of her age, Carpenter convinced her to meet him when he led her to a deserted site where the offence took place. The Court heard that here, Carpenter forcefully made her have sex with him right after he groped and kissed her.

The second victim was in February 2017, when Carpenter enticed a 14-year old girl into his vehicle, drove her to an isolated bush area where “forced her into unwilling sexual acts”.

The third victim was just a month later, when he offered to fund a 14-year old girl’s procedure to have her nipple pierced. It was reported that he took photos of her breast, and while present during the piercing, he groped her breast after it started bleeding.

Judge Simon Stone said in court, “you have shown no remorse, you were deliberate and persistent and opportunistic- and you were proud of your manipulative behaviour… You harboured hopes of sex… and completely disregarded your victim’s rights.”

What are the Penalties for Child Sex Offences in NSW?

The law regards the act of having sexual intercourse with a person under 16 years of age as a criminal offence, also know as sexual intercourse even if it was with consent, under section 66C of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

The law regards that people under the age of 16 years are not able to give consent to sexual intercourse in NSW. This means that, it is no defence to an allegation of rape to say that the alleged victim gave consent, even if true where the victim was under the age of 16 years.

However, the fact that the under-age person gave consent to sexual intercourse can go towards getting a more lenient penalty by a Judge in court on sentencing.

A person guilty of an offence of sexual intercourse with an underage person, even if consent was given, can expect to face a penalty ranging between 10 years to life imprisonment. This will ultimately depend on the age of the victim.

If Victim Was Aged Under 10

Section 66A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) prohibits a person from having sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 10. Anyone guilty of this offence will face a maximum penalty of up to life imprisonment.

The maximum life imprisonment is a reflection of the heinousness of this offence and its devastating and lifelong consequences. Although the maximum penalty is not usually imposed, it is only reserved for the most serious kind of this offence.

In the event a Court decides not to impose life imprisonment, this offence will then require a Judge to consider imposing a ‘standard non-parole’ period of 15 years imprisonment.

The ‘standard non-parole’ period is the minimum period of full-time prison that a Judge is required to consider imposing (as a yardstick or guide) before the offender is eligible to be released on a parole period to serve the remainder of the sentence. It will only apply (to be considered as a guide only) if the offence is assessed by the Judge as falling within the middle of the range of objective seriousness of an offence of this kind.

When assessing the objective seriousness of this offence, the Judge will look into factors such as when, where and how the offence took place, degree of coercion, pressure or threats and the impact on the victim amongst other relevant factors.

If Victim Was Aged From 10 to 13

Section 66C(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) prohibits a person from having sexual intercourse with another person aged 10 or more, but less than 14 years. Anyone guilty of this offence will face a maximum penalty of up to 16 years imprisonment. This offence also carries a ‘standard non-parole period’ of 7 years imprisonment.

A person guilty of this offence in circumstances of ‘aggravation’ will increase the maximum penalty to 20 years imprisonment pursuant to section 66C(2) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). This offence also carries a ‘standard non-parole period’ of 9 years imprisonment.

Section 66C(5) outlines a list of aggravating factors, and includes any one or more of the following features at the time of the offence:

  • Victim was deprived of his/her liberty;
  • Victim’s home was broken into with an intention to commit a serious offence carrying a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment or more;
  • Victim suffered a cognitive impairment, was intoxicated, or had a serious physical disability;
  • Victim was under the offender’s authority. i.e. parental or teacher and student relationship;
  • There were others present at the time of the offence;
  • The victim was threatened with injury;
  • Victim sustained an assault resulting in some actual bodily harm.

If Victim Was Aged From 14 to 15

Section 66(3) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) prohibits a person from having sexual intercourse with another person aged 14 or more, but less than 16 years. Anyone guilty of this offence will face a maximum penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.

If a person guilty of this offence also commits it in circumstances of ‘aggravation’, the maximum penalty rises to 12 years imprisonment pursuant to section 66C(4) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). This offence also carries a standard non-parole period of 5-years.

What Happens After Being Convicted of a Child Sexual Offence?

Amongst the social and legal consequences of getting a criminal conviction, especially for a child sex offence in NSW, other than the penalty you receive from a Judge, you can also face the following consequences:

  1. Convicted for a child-sex offence will result in you becoming a ‘disqualified person’ under the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 (NSW). This will automatically prohibit you from obtaining a working with children’s check clearance, preventing you from ever working in a child-related job.
  2. Convicted for a child-sex offence will result in you becoming a ‘registrable person’ pursuant to the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 (NSW). This will mean:
    1. That you and your details (including the offence(s)) will be placed onto a child protection register; and
    2. You will be required to report to the police on certain specified occasions; and
    3. You will be required to report to the police at least 7 days before you intend on leaving NSW.

How Long is a Convicted Child-Sex Offender Required to Report For?

You will be required to report for at least 8-years if you are found guilty of a single ‘class 2 offence’.

You will be required to continue reporting for 15 years if you are convicted of a single ‘class 1 offence’ (including any offence of sexual intercourse with a child).

Furthermore, you will be required to report to police for the rest of your life if convicted of a ‘class 1 offence’ (such as the offences outlined in this blog), in circumstances you were also subsequently convicted of other ‘registrable offences’. (A ‘registrable offence’ is any offence listed in ‘class 1 or class 2, or any offence that results in the making of a child protection registration order).

This is reflected in section 14A of the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 (NSW).

A most commonly used defence to have a child sex charge dismissed is the defence of an ‘honest and reasonable mistake of fact defence’. This defence only applies to a charge of section 66C(3) where the alleged victim is 14 or more, but less than 16 years of age.

How does it work? You will be found not guilty if after raising this defence, the prosecution is unable to prove (beyond reasonable doubt) that you didn’t honestly or reasonably believe that the alleged victim was 16 years or more. This defence is reflected in the commonly cited case of Proudman v Dayman [1941] HCA 28.

For a more detailed outline on this, see our blog on the law on child sex offences in NSW.

Have any questions arising from this blog? Our team appear in all courts, with experienced criminal lawyers in Parramatta, Sydney and Liverpool. We are available to help 24/7.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Australia's Leading Criminal Defence Lawyers, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Courts.

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