What does the law say?
Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, meeting a child after grooming is a specific offence in relation to children which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
In a prosecution for grooming where there is “no substantive sexual offence”, the court will take into consideration the intentions of the accused person. That means the seriousness of the intended offence and the level of risk to the alleged victim.
Other factors included in judging the seriousness of an alleged offence include the degree of fear and physical injury claimed by the alleged victim, the level of planning used by the accused person, the sophistication of the grooming, how allegedly determined the accused was, did they achieve their intention and what physical or mental injury the alleged victim experienced. So-called aggravating factors in a case can include intimidation or coercion, use of drugs and alcohol, existence of a sexually transmitted infection or whether the alleged victim was abducted or detained.
With sexual offences law being both complex and challenging it is vital to have a highly experienced legal team on your side to advise and represent you.
What can happen if you are found guilty of grooming?
If you are found guilty of a grooming offence, the court can impose both a prison sentence and what is called an ancillary order.
Ancillary orders related to a grooming conviction could include notification, which means signing the sex offenders register and being subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, which places restrictions on the person such as not approaching or associating with children.
Any breach of an order can result in a prison sentence of up to five years.
If you are accused of grooming, this puts extraordinary pressure on your career, reputation and relationships. Therefore, it is important to have the support of a legal specialist.
What do you need from a lawyer in a grooming case?
A grooming cases puts immense pressure on the person facing such allegations as well as the other people involved.
That is why people facing difficult investigations and questions from police and prosecutors should have the best possible legal representation.
Our team has many years’ experience in handling such cases, so 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 one of our team will contact you directly to discuss your situation.