Defending sexual offence allegations

Our criminal defence solicitors recognise that being accused of any offence is a distressing experience for any individual, even more so when the offence is of a sexual nature.

When facing a sexual offence allegation it is essential that legal advice is sought at the earliest opportunity. Often people accused of sexual offences have no previous experience of the criminal justice system and with careers, reputations and relationships under threat it is important to be guided through the process by a legal specialist.

Our criminal justice team have many years’ experience in this area and are well placed to advise and represent clients facing allegations nationwide. If you have been arrested or are at any stage of criminal prosecution for a sex offence, contact us on 0203 816 1098 alternatively complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly to discuss your situation.

Types of allegation

Our legal experts can advise if you are facing allegations on the full range of sexual offences, including:

The law relating to sexual offences can be complex and challenging and with increased numbers of sexual complaints being reported it is important to have a legal team that will handle the matter with exemplary care and tact. For more information on a confidential basis without obligation don’t hesitate to contact us on 0203 816 1098.

Frequently asked questions

What should I do of I am wrongly accused of a sexual offence?

If somebody accuses you of a sexual offence the first thing you should do is contact a criminal defence solicitor who is experienced in these types of claims. You should do this even if you have been wrongly accused of the crime.

Under no circumstances should you communicate with the person who is accusing you of the offence and you should make sure that any evidence of contact you have had with them in the past, for example text messages, call logs and emails, are saved and documented. Your solicitor will make all necessary enquiries on your behalf.

What should I do if the police contact me?

Due to the serious nature of sexual offences the police are obligated to investigate all accusations. If you are arrested by the police you have the right to a legal representative and you should not speak to the police without obtaining legal advice first.

In some circumstances the police may ask you to voluntarily attend an interview to discuss the allegations. Again, you should always seek legal advice from a criminal defence lawyer before attending an interview.

Your legal representative will be able to liaise with the police on your behalf and will make sure that the process is carried out as it should be.

Will I be released on police bail or released under investigation? What is the difference?

If the police release you on bail you will be released while they continue with their investigations into your case and you will have certain conditions imposed on you. For example, you may be required to live in a certain place or instructed not to do certain things during this time. If you breach the conditions of your bail you may be arrested. If you wish to challenge the conditions of bail your solicitor may be able to help you to do this.

If you are released under investigation you will be released while the police continue to conduct investigations but you will not be subject to any conditions.

What will happen if I am charged with a sexual offence?

If you are charged with the alleged offence you will need to appear in court. The seriousness of the accusation will determine which court deals with the case. If you enter a not guilty plea at the Magistrates' Court your case will last longer, usually a number of months. If your case is taken to the Crown Court the case will be heard by a jury and sometimes these cases take more than a year to go to trial. In the most serious cases, for example rape, the case will always be heard at the Crown Court.

If I haven’t done anything wrong, do I still need a solicitor?

You should always contact a solicitor if you have been wrongly accused of a crime. Sexual offence cases are often complex, particularly when it comes to proving consent, and having a solicitor can help you to navigate the process. If you do not have a solicitor representing you the police are not obliged to provide you with advance notice about what it is they want to question you about, and so not having legal advice could put you at a serious disadvantage and leave you unprepared for the questions you will be asked.

How can I prove that I haven’t done anything wrong?

The nature of sexual offences means that the alleged act usually took place in private and with no witnesses. These cases are difficult to prove or disprove and it is often a case of one person’s word against another and so it is important that you gather and preserve as much as you can that may be able to be used as evidence. The complexity of being able to prove that you didn’t do anything wrong makes having legal assistance all the more important.

How long will the process take?

We understand how difficult it can be to get on with your normal life if you have wrongly been accused of a sexual offence but unfortunately there is no set time frame regarding how long these cases take. Sexual offence investigations tend to take longer than many other criminal matters and can take even longer if the allegations are historical. How long it takes will depend on a number of factors including the nature of the offence of which you have been accused, whether or not you are charged and how the police choose to deal with the accusation.

Will the media be allowed to publish my name?

We understand that there is a stigma attached to allegations of sexual misconduct and that you will want to protect your privacy and reputation at this challenging time and we will work to protect your right to privacy and anonymity.

If you are prosecuted there is unfortunately little that can be done to protect your identity, unless it leads to the identification of the alleged victim or a child.

What if my accuser says the offence took place a long time ago? Is there a time limit?

In England and Wales there is no statute of limitations that applies to more serious criminal allegations. A six month time limit applies to more minor “summary only” offences that can only be heard in a Magistrates' Court. However, there is generally no time limit that applies to more serious allegations that are capable of being heard in the Crown Court. Most offences of a sexual nature are capable of being in heard in a Crown Court and, therefore, no time limit applies either to the making of the allegation or the commencement of legal proceedings, providing any delay does not amount to an abuse of process.  This is why we often hear about allegations of sexual offences being made many, many years after the event.

 

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Case study - acquittal of clients charged with serious sexual offences

Client 1 - it was alleged by the prosecution that our client had raped his partner after a night out. The defendant was acquitted.

Client 2 - this was a historic sexual abuse case against our client from over 30 years ago. In this case there were a number of victims who had made allegations that they had been abused as children. After a lengthy trial the defendant was acquitted.

Had both clients been convicted they would have faced lengthy custodial sentences and the convictions would have impacted upon the rest of their lives. 

Correna Platt represented both clients. Correna regularly met with the clients taking their instructions, liaised closely with counsel, proactively chased the Crown Prosecution Service for outstanding material and instructed experts to comment on the evidence.

These are extremely emotional cases and it is necessary to be able to guide a client through the process and to take time to listen and act upon their instructions.

Both trials were recently listed. Correna used her experience to hand-pick experienced, senior barristers, who she knew specialised in these particular types of cases, to represent our clients. She gave the barristers very clear and thorough instructions and challenged the prosecution’s evidence at every step of the way. Miss Platt invested hundreds of hours of her time in preparing the cases, leaving no stone unturned to ensure the right result for her clients.

After lengthy closing speeches by the barrister in both cases, and the summing up by the Judge, our clients were acquitted of all the charges, in both cases.

Correna Platt qualified in our criminal litigation department in 1996 and now manages a team who have recently received the highest ranking for crime and fraud (tier one) in the Legal 500 for the fourth consecutive year. Ms Platt specialises in the most complex areas of Crown Court work, which includes; murder/manslaughter, sexual offences and multi million pound fraud cases.

It is important for a person facing serious allegations to instruct a firm who specialise in the area of law they are being investigated under. If you require assistance from the department please contact 0203 816 1098.

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