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Sexual Offences in Australia

Sexual Offences in Australia

Every state and territory of Australia has its own legislation setting out sexual offences and the penalties that apply to them. Sexual offences encompass a wide range of behaviour. Some may be finalized by a magistrate while others are strictly indictable offences, which must be committed to a higher court for finalization. Some states and territories have mandatory minimum sentencing laws that apply to certain sexual offences. All jurisdictions also have a Registry on which particular categories of sexual offenders are required to register.

Sexual offences in Queensland

In Queensland, sexual offences are set out in the Criminal Code 1899. These include offences that are based on lack of consent as defined in section 348 and offences for which consent is irrelevant.

Offences based on lack of consent include rape, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment under section 349 and sexual assaults under section 352, which carry a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

Offences that do not require a lack of consent include carnal knowledge of a child under 16 under section 215,  indecent treatment of a child under 16 under section 210 and incest under section 222.

A person who is found guilty of certain sexual offences in Queensland will be required to register on the Child Protection Offender Registry.

Sexual offences in New South Wales

In New South Wales, the Crimes Act 1900 contains a range of sexual offences, including the offence of sexual assault, which is set out in section 611 and replaces the common law offence of rape. Sexual assault is defined as occurring when a person has sexual intercourse with another person without the other person’s consent and knowing that the other person does not consent.

Other sexual offences under the Crimes Act 1900 include sexual touching and sexual acts without consent and a range of sexual acts involving children under 16.

A person who is found guilty of some types of sexual offence in New South Wales may be placed on the Child Protection Register.

Sexual offences in Victoria

In Victoria, sexual offences are governed by the Crimes Act 1958.

Sexual offences include rape, which is set out in section 38 and carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment. Rape in Victoria is defined as sexual penetration without consent. The standard sentence for rape is 10 years. Sexual assault, which is set out in section 40, consists of intentional sexual touching (without penetration) without consent. It carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.

Victoria also has a range of offences involving sexual penetration or sexual activity with a child. Different maximum penalties apply for these offences depending on the age of the child involved.

Some people who are found guilty of sex offences in Victoria will be placed on the Victorian Register of Sex Offenders.

Sexual offences in Tasmania

Tasmanian sexual offences are set out in the Criminal Code 1924. Under section 389 of that act, all indictable offences are punishable by a maximum of 21 years imprisonment unless otherwise specified in legislation. This is quite different from the sentencing schemes of other states, where a maximum penalty is specified in relation to each individual criminal offence.

In Tasmania, sexual offences against adults include rape, indecent assault, incest and bestiality. A range of sexual offences against children also exists under the Criminal Code.

A person found guilty of sexual offences against children or adults in Tasmania may be required to register on the Community Protection Register

Sexual offences in South Australia

In South Australia, sexual offences are governed by the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935.

Offences involving lack of consent as defined in section 46 include rape, indecent assault and compelled sexual manipulation.

Under section 49, unlawful sexual intercourse is an offence that relates to sexual activity with children under 17. The maximum penalty that applies if life imprisonment if the child involved is under 14 or 15 years if the child is between 14 and 17. Other sexual offences against children include having an unlawful sexual relationship with a child and child exploitation offences.

Sexual offences in Western Australia

In Western Australia, sexual offences are contained in the Criminal Code Compilation Act 1913.

The act sets out the penalties that apply to sexual offences against children, with different maximum penalties applying depending on the age of the child involved and on the relationship of the offender to the child. It also contains sexual offences against adults such as indecent assault, aggravated indecent assault and sexual penetration without consent.

Sexual offences in the Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, sexual offences can be found in the Criminal Code Act 1983.

Sexual offences against adults include sexual intercourse without consent, gross indecency and incest. Sexual offences against children include sex with a child under 16, indent dealing with a child under 16 and maintain a sexual relationship with a child under 16.

Some people who are found guilty of sex offences in the NT will be required to register on the NT Child Protection Offender Registry.

Commonwealth sexual offences

The Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995 contains sexual offences that do not occur within any particular state or territory. Mandatory minimum sentences apply to these offences, which include having sexual intercourse with a child under 16 outside of Australia, which carries a sentence of 25 years imprisonment and using a carriage service to procure a child under 16, which carries a sentence of 15 years imprisonment.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Content Editor

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Content Editor

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.

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