Sentencing for sexual assault

What is the sentence for sexual assault?

Although most people are fortunate enough not to be involved in a sexual assault case, those that are can find it a very distressing place to be. Being charged with or receiving allegations about sexual assault or any sexual offences can be extremely concerning with fears going far more in-depth than worries about what might happen in court.

sexual assault

If you’ve been accused of something as potentially life changing as sexual assault, it’s understandable if it affects your sleep and appetite. There is likely to be a sense of anxiety about what people will think of you, and you will feel desperate to clear your name and protect your reputation. You will also be keen to find a way to avoid a potential prison sentence.

For professionals who have created a career out of consulting or from their persona, it’s bound to cause even more anxiety. It is frightening to think about what allegations of this nature can do to a career and quality of life. It’s understandable that you’ll be feeling under pressure and even having sleepless nights.

To help you to understand what the outcome might be as a result of being convicted of a sexual assault offence, we’ve detailed the sentencing guidelines.  Please note that a competent and experienced solicitor may be able to get a prison sentence reduced or even avoid it entirely.

Sexual assault cases are distressing

Being accused of sexual assault is extremely distressing. While the Rule of Law and the Human Rights Act follow the principle of everyone being ‘innocent until proven guilty’, those accused of sexual assault will inevitably feel they are being assumed to be guilty until they prove their own innocence.

Sleep disorders, anxiety, depression and stress are but some of the physical symptoms you may suffer while battling the Charges. The impact on your well-being, your loved ones and any business you may be operating is immeasurable.

You will no doubt be battling the ‘what if’ syndrome and running your mind through countless possibilities and hypothesis. It is therefore fundamentally vital that you engage specialist sexual offences solicitors and sexual assault lawyers from the very outset.

If you have any questions that we haven’t answered here, please contact us to find out more information about what to expect in an investigation or case of this nature. You can call us on +44 (0) 208 888 5225. We also offer 24 hour access to a lawyer in the case of an emergency, the telephone number is +44 (0) 7980 000 076.

If you or somebody close to you has been charged or arrested in connection to a sexual assault case, you will be feeling very confused, worried, stressed and concerned about what’s going to happen.

For the prosecution to prove Sexual Assault, they must show:

  • You intentionally touched another person
  • The touching was both inappropriate and sexual
  • The other person involved did not give consent to such a sexual act; and
  • You do not fully believe that the other person consented to such an act

It is not for you to prove your innocence but for the prosecution to prove your guilt.

As there is no time limit when charges are brought, the prosecution can bring charges if they feel it’s in the public interest to do so. Cases of this nature are usually known as historic sexual offence cases.

What type of actions are considered Sexual Assault?

The most common sexual offences committed against adults are sexual assault and assault by penetration.

Sexual assault by penetration – this is when something other than a penis is inserted into the anus or the vagina without consent or reasonable belief in consent. Penetration can be by either gender, and can include fingers, toes or tongue or even an object such as a bottle.

Sexual assault – this is when any form of touching takes place that is sexual in nature and is performed without there being consent given or without reasonable belief in consent.

There are many other criminal sexual offences, including those committed against children, family members, those with mental disorders and those committed by a person in a position of trust such a religious person or a teacher.

If you are told you are part of an investigation for any of these offences, it’s critical that you take professional legal advice as quickly as possible. The Police will want to interview you, and it’s essential that you have a solicitor with you for this. What happens in the police interview can determine what the outcome of the case is.

The primary goal of the police is to secure a conviction and they will typically try to get you to incriminate yourself by not presenting all evidence they have against you. Having a solicitor by your side can give you some protection against this.

What is the average sentence for sexual assault offences?

The fine you pay could be up to £5000, and the maximum jail sentence is either the maximum statutory imprisonment time of the Magistrate’s Court or ten years if you attend the Crown Court.

We handle sexual assault cases regularly and our team have in-depth knowledge in this arena.

How does a court decide on the seriousness of the sexual offence for sentencing purposes? 

The information that judges are given with regards to sentencing are only guidelines, and each case will be looked at individually. One of the primary factors that judges consider in every case of this nature is the defendant’s level of genuine remorse.

The following factors are considered when the court decides which sentence to give. The court will look at:

  • Your previous conviction(s)
  • Your level of remorse
  • Your level of cooperation with the investigation
  • Whether the activity you took part in was originally legitimate
  • Your reputation / good character
  • Whether you have any serious medical conditions that require long term, urgent or intensive treatment
  • Whether you have a learning disability or a mental disorder
  • Whether you are the sole or primary carer for related dependents
  • The age of the person involved and whether they are a vulnerable person

The following is an extract from the Sentencing Guidelines which are provided to judges to aid them in deciding on penalties.

Culpability

Culpability A

  • Significant degree of planning
  • Offender acts together with others to commit the offence
  • Use of alcohol/drugs on victim to facilitate the offence
  • Abuse of trust
  • Previous violence against victim
  • Offence committed in course of burglary
  • Recording of offence
  • Commercial exploitation and/or motivation
  • Offence racially or religiously aggravated
  • Offence motivated by, or demonstrating, hostility to the victim based on his or her sexual orientation (or presumed sexual orientation) or transgender identity (or presumed transgender identity)
  • Offence motivated by, or demonstrating, hostility to the victim based on his or her disability (or presumed disability)

Culpability B

  • Factor(s) in category A not present

What are some of the mitigating factors that might reduce the sexual assault offence sentence?

Certain aspects of a case are known as the mitigating aspects which can influence the sentence that a judge gives. In sexual assault cases, they may include:

  • Whether the defendant is disabled or mentally ill
  • The age of the defendant, i.e. if they are particularly young their age may affect their level of responsibility
  • If there are previous, relevant or recent convictions
  • Suspect shows a considerable level of genuine remorse
  • A previous good character with exemplary conduct
  • If there is a learning disability or mental disorder linked to this offence
  • There have been demonstrative steps made to address this behaviour
  • If you suffer from sexsomnia

Is it possible to reduce a sentence for sexual assault with a guilty plea?

In recent years, a number of changes have been made to the sentencing system in the UK to save the court time and cost and to protect witnesses from the stress of needlessly going through a trial. For offenders aged 18 and over, pleading guilty early on in a case can reduce a sentence by as much as one third (maximum). The later the plea is entered, the smaller the reduction.

‘Early on’ refers to ‘the first stage of the proceedings’ and means anytime up to and including the first hearing at the Magistrates Court or Crown Court for indictable offences.

If a plea is entered 14 days after the first hearing, for example, the maximum level of reduction is just 20% or one fifth of the sentence. For indictable offences, the limit for a guilty plea to be made is within 28 days after the prosecutor has stated compliance with section 3 of CPIA 1996 and serving disclosure; although the decision is ultimately in the hands of the Judge who has discretion to apply whatever credit is deemed appropriate.

After these times there is a sliding scale of credit applied. This goes down to one tenth on the first day of the trial and to zero if entered during the course of the trial. In theory, the ten percent could be given if the plea is issued after the opening speeches on the first day, but prior to any witness evidence being heard.

If the accused does not want to plead guilty, then it’s important for the solicitor to regularly inform the court throughout the trial of the reasons why the client’s plea is not guilty.

What are some of the other consequences of the sexual assault offence?

Ancillary Orders

A court can also make ancillary orders on a defendant if they are found guilty and convicted of an offence. These are extra elements that can be added to a sentence and include additional restrictions or requirements that affect a dependent’s finances, property or activity.

Ancillary orders that are typically added to the penalty for those who are found to be guilty of sexual assault include:

  • Registration / Notification of Sexual Offenders
  • Restraint orders
  • Reparation orders
  • Financial reporting order
  • Confiscation orders
  • Victims surcharge

As part of your investigation, you may also have your assets frozen with the possibility of having cash or other assets seized.

In addition, the court may demand payment of the following if the accused is convicted:

Payment of costs applied for by the prosecutors

Although the police meet some of the costs involved in the prosecution, the costs of investigation are typically sought from the convicted. These may include the costs of:

  • The work done in obtaining sufficient evidence for prosecution either at the initial stage or later at the request of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
  • Seeking medical or expert evidence as part of the investigation, (where a witness is required to attend Court, the cost of the attendance falls on the CPS).
  • Re-interviewing witnesses
  • The entire costs of the prosecutor, including fees for the use of external Barristers used by the CPS, can be recovered from the defendant, subject to means. At the end of the case, the prosecutor under The Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 will request the Judge to order a sum to be paid for the costs incurred by the prosecutor in bringing the prosecution.

Victims surcharges

The term victims’ surcharges can be explained as paying compensation to a fund for victims and can range between £20 to £170 depending on what sentence you were given at conviction.

How sentences can be added to national information databases

There are several national databases that hold information about individuals and any allegations made about them, their criminal and court records. These include the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) which was previously known as the CRB (Criminal Record Bureau) and the Police National Computer (PNC).  Depending on what happened, whether the accused is convicted and what sentence was issued, the accused may be added to one or all these databases. Their purpose is to provide information to potential employers and to regulate the ability to take part in certain activities.

If your case progresses to court and you are convicted of sexual assault, your conviction will be noted on your CRB / police record. The period of the endorsement will depend on the nature and length of your sentence.

Below are details on how long you will be listed as holding a criminal record if convicted. This is something very serious to consider when it comes to future employment. The term ‘spent’ refers to when your name can be removed from the databases.

Rehabilitation Period
(the time it takes for the sentence to become ‘spent’)
Sentence Adult (aged 18+) at time of conviction Young person (aged under 18) at time of conviction
Prison sentences of more than 4 years Sentence is never spent Sentence is never spent
Prison sentences of more than 2.5 years (30 months) but less than 4 years Sentence length 7 years Sentence length 3.5 years
Prison sentences of more than 6 months but less than 2.5 years (30 months) Sentence length +4 years Sentence length +2 years
Prison sentences of less than 6 months Sentence length + 2 years Sentence length +18 months
Conditional Discharge Length of order Length of order
Absolute Discharge None None
Conditional Caution 3 months 3 months
Simple Caution / Youth Caution None – immediately ‘spent’ None – immediately ‘spent’
Other Including Compensation Order, Supervision Order, Bind Over, Hospital Order Length of the order / once compensation is paid Length of the order / once compensation is paid

In cases of this nature, sentencing can be influenced by the lawyer. The court can be convinced by using arguments such as there will be damage to business, loss of job or loss of revenue to employer for the absence of the employee. If there is spouse disability or dependency, then the lawyer should put this forward to influence the outcome more positively. It’s important to stress the fact that the accused can be rehabilitated and attend a sex offender treatment programme as an alternative to a short or moderate term custodial sentence.

Below are notification periods for the convicted to be included in the Violent and Sex Offender Register (ViSOR).

Rehabilitation Period
(the time it takes for the sentence to become ‘spent’)
Sentence Adult (aged 18+) at time of conviction Young person (aged under 18) at time of conviction
Prison sentences of more than 4 years Sentence is never spent Sentence is never spent
Prison sentences of more than 2.5 years (30 months) but less than 4 years Sentence length 7 years Sentence length 3.5 years
Prison sentences of more than 6 months but less than 2.5 years (30 months) Sentence length +4 years Sentence length +2 years
Prison sentences of less than 6 months Sentence length + 2 years Sentence length +18 months
Conditional Discharge Length of order Length of order
Absolute Discharge None None
Conditional Caution 3 months 3 months
Simple Caution / Youth Caution None – immediately ‘spent’ None – immediately ‘spent’
Other Including Compensation Order, Supervision Order, Bind Over, Hospital Order Length of the order / once compensation is paid Length of the order / once compensation is paid

How Can Stuart Miller Solicitors Help?

Our Sexual Offences Solicitors will make it their job to act discreetly and sensitively to your needs. We are aware as to how this may be affecting you and want to help and support you in the right way. Rather than second guess the issues, our Lawyers will advise you accurately and effectively so you can ease your mind and build confidence in your defence case.

We will work with you to understand your account of events and then decide how best to present your side of the story. In doing this, we will analyse the prosecution’s case in detail; we will contest the admissibility of evidence and fight rigorously to ensure all disclosure has been provided, especially materially which may assist the defence case.

What will happen when I instruct a sexual assault lawyer?

Most importantly in allegations of Sexual Assault, the issue of consent must be analysed with a fine-tooth comb, and since there are unlikely to be third-party witnesses, our Sexual Offences Solicitors will build a picture matching your version of events. To do this, we will explore and collect any indirect and circumstantial evidence which supports your case and falls in line with the defence strategy. If we can gather material which proves the complainant to be a prolific liar, for example, these are the sorts of investigations we will make.

We will engage brilliant and specialist Sexual Offences Barristers who will stand with us side by side throughout your case. If there is any reason to explore mobile phone evidence or computer evidence, we will engage specialists who do just that and then invite them to present their findings to the Court.

Arrest & Interview

We have taken on several cases where somebody has been falsely accused of sexual assault. Our solicitors have experience of getting cases dismissed, in particular where it appears that a case has been ‘manufactured’ to sully a name or for financial benefit.

Nevertheless, our Sexual Offences Solicitors are not in the habit of sitting around and letting the prosecution strengthen their case.

What most people comment on about our team is our deftness at simply explaining complex laws. They also recommend us for the support that we give our clients. We know this can be a challenging time for people in this situation, and we provide the support that makes the difference to a client. Our team are here to listen to your side of the case, to talk you through the process, and to put together a defence that will be in your best interests.

Other related sexual offences:

The following are other sexual offences that can result to imprisonment if found guilty and convicted:

  • Voyeurism
  • Sex with an adult relative
  • Indecency with Children
  • Unlawful sexual intercourse
  • Offences against persons with a mental disorder

Would you like to discuss your case before instructing us?

If you’d like to have a no-obligation chat with us before you instruct us to take your case, then call us today.

In addition to giving you a free consultation, we can also represent you at the police station if you’ve been arrested. We can look at securing your legal aid.

Please Contact Us and ask to speak to our sexual assault lawyers and sexual offences solicitors to arrange a meeting in person, online or by telephone. If you prefer, you can WhatsApp us from the link you will find at the bottom banner if you open this page on your mobile phone device.

Get in touch with us now for sexual assault legal help.

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