Age of Consent In Canberra
The age of consent is the age when a person can legally consent to sexual activity with other people. The age of consent is 16 in most Australian states and territories; though it stands at 17 in others. In different states there are different defences available to charges of having sex with a child who was below the age of consent and there are different penalties that apply. The age of consent in Canberra and the ACT is 16.
What Is Consent?
Consent is legally defined as ‘free agreement’. A person does not validly consent to sex if they agree to have sex because of threats, force or intimidation by another person or if they are asleep, unconscious or so affected by drugs or alcohol that they cannot effectively consent. A person is not taken to consent simply because they do not physically resist.
Sex without consent is always a criminal offence regardless of the ages of the participants and can be charged under s54 of the Crimes Act 1900 ACT . The maximum penalty for sex without consent in Canberra and elsewhere in the ACT is 12 years imprisonment.
What Is The Definition Of Sex?
For the purposes of the laws around the age of consent, sex includes the penetration of a vagina or anus with a finger, penis, other body part or object. It also includes non-penetrative sex such as oral sex. It includes heterosexual and homosexual activity.
Sex With Person Under The Age Of Consent
Although in the ACT, the age of consent of 16, there are some situations where it is legal for a person to have sex with a person who is aged under 16.
If a person is less that two years older than a person who is under the age of consent, it is not an offence to have sex with them, provided they consent and are over the age of 10. Many jurisdictions have this law, which is known as the Romeo and Juliette law. This law exists to recognise that teenagers are developing sexually and that young people can validly consent to sex with another person of a similar age, and that this activity should not be criminalised.
Honest and reasonable mistake
It is a defence to a charge of sexual intercourse with a person aged under 16 if the accused honestly and reasonably believed that the young person was aged 16 or older.
Offences Relating To Sex With Child Under 16
In any situation other than the two that are outlined above, it is an offence to have sex with a child who is under the age of consent. This offence is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment.
The ACT also has criminal offences relating to sex with a child under the age of consent under particular circumstances, which carry different penalties.
Sex with child under 10
Sex with a young person under special care
Under section 55A Crimes Act 1900 ACT, it is an offence to have sex with a young person who is under your special care, if they are under 18 and you are more than two years older than them. Special care includes foster carers, teachers, sports coaches, youth workers, health professional and counsellors.
This means that the age at which a young person can consent to sex with a person who is a position of authority over them is 18.
All adults who have been found guilty of a sex offence against a person under the age of consent in Canberra and the rest of the ACT are added to the Sex Offender Registry. A person who is under 18 and is found guilty of a sex offence can also be added to the Sex Offender Registry but this requires a court order. Persons on the Sex Offenders Register must keep the police informed of their contact details and employment details. They are prohibited from working with children and must report to the police the details of any children they have regular contact with.