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Sentencing for Sexual Offences

What is the sentence for Sexual Offences in 2024?

In law, sexual offences is a catch-all term used to cover several offences including sexual assault, rape, sexual offences against children and the possession and distribution of indecent images.

falsely accused of rape

An allegation of a sexual nature can be emotionally stressful and take its toll on your wellbeing and that of those around you. Above all, this is particularly true for well-known people and professionals whose livelihood can depend on their reputation.  If a person is convicted, their name could be added to the Sex Offenders Register.

Sexual Offences Allegations can be horrific and humiliating to deal with. Not only do some offences carry life imprisonment if convicted, but any person accused of such a crime will be extremely concerned about allegations being made public, associated media attention and the repercussions of the allegations in general.

Sleepless nights, anxiety and horror.

We understand the need for you and your family to be advised and informed on how Court Proceedings work and that such procedures may be unfamiliar to you. Often these offences are based purely on the issue of consent and presenting accurate and factual legal arguments to support this is key.

It’s crucial to engage with a competent sexual offences solicitors as early as possible in the allegations.

To put your mind at ease, we have detailed what the outcome might be from being convicted of a sexual offence. However, it’s important to note that the guidance of an experienced solicitor may reduce a prison sentence or even avoid it entirely.

Let’s explore each of the five categories and what information is provided to judges by the Sentencing Guidelines Council to make their decisions.

Read more information about Sexual Offences

What is the average sentence for sexual offences?

Depending on what you are convicted of, your name may be added to the Sexual Offenders Register. Prison sentences range from 3 months to life imprisonment for rape.

If you engage a sexual offences solicitor who has deep experience and knowledge of this are of law, they will advise you of what would typically be a sentence for whatever crime there is a possibility of you being convicted of.

However, sentences of this length are not typical and are usually applied to the most serious of offences, like rape offences.

What is the average sentence for possessing, making or supplying articles for use in sexual offences?

Depending on what you are convicted of, your name may be added to the Sexual Offenders Register. Prison sentences range from 3 months to life imprisonment for rape.

If you engage a sexual offences solicitor who has deep experience and knowledge of this are of law, they will advise you of what would typically be a sentence for whatever crime there is a possibility of you being convicted of.

Here are some examples of sexual offences that may have led to the situation at hand.

  • Distribution of pornographic material – the law has recently changed on what constitutes pornographic material. The Crown Prosecution Service has recognised that their terms, such as ‘obscene’ are open to interpretation.
  • Possession and distribution of Indecent Images – if the images are of children, the maximum prison term for possessing them is five years. For distribution of indecent images, the maximum prison term is ten years.
  • Inciting sexual activity  – this is the act of encouraging or urging a child below the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity.
  • Child Sex Offences – the sentence for these is determined by what the intention of the accused and the age of the child.
  • Grooming – when there have been at least two communications with a child and either the child or the accused travels to meet the child with the intention of committing a sexual act.
  • Rape – penetration without consent.
  • Sexual assault – intentional touching of a person in a sexual way without consent.

The main components of a sexual offence are that there is a sexual intent; there has not been consent, or that a child is involved.

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

The court will consider what harm has been caused by the offence when deciding which sentence to give. They will look at:

  • How well planned or opportunistic is the crime?
  • What was the motivation behind the crime?
  • Whether a position of trust was bestowed to the offender (such as being an employer, or carer)
  • How many people were involved in either planning or carrying out the offence
  • Whether there was more than one victim
  • Whether there were repeated or sustained offences against one victim
  • Whether other people were present – like the victim’s children, or partner
  • Any attempt to disclose or conceal evidence
  • The level of vulnerability of the victim and whether they were specifically targeted
  • Whether the offence was racially or religiously motivated, or motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or disability
  • Excessive use of force or violence
  • Whether a weapon was used to injure/frighten the victim
  • With sexual offences in particular, whether photographs were taken to further degrade the victim

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

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

  • Whether the defendant is disabled or mentally ill
  • How old they are, i.e. if they are particularly young their age may affect their level of responsibility
  • What role the convicted played in the offence – i.e. if it was particularly minor
  • Whether the offender has admitted the crime and cooperated with the authorities
  • Whether the defendant believed consent was initially given by the victim
  • Whether the defendant is genuinely remorseful

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

Ancillary Orders

A court can also make ancillary orders on a defendant if they are found guilty and convicted of a sexual 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 include the following:

Compensation Order

The court may enforce that a compensation order is applied in favour of a victim if they have suffered a personal injury or a financial loss. Compensation may include a community order, a fine or a prison sentence and be a stand-alone sentence or combined with another punishment.

Confiscation Order

When the defendant is viewed by the court as having benefited financially from the offence, the court may decide to enforce a confiscation order to reclaim any finances gained from the crime.

Restitution order

A restitution order is when the court orders that stolen goods are restored or returned to the victim. It may also involve money or assets of the value stolen being transferred to the victim.

Financial reporting order

If the court believes that the defendant is likely to be involved in future offences, they may decide to enforce the defendant to report their financial affairs on a regular basis. A financial reporting order can last for up to 15 years.

Serious crime prevention order

This is the most stringent order to be given by a court and can influence several different aspects of the life of the convicted person. It may include

  • Whether they can work with certain individuals
  • Applying particular business methods
  • Working in particular businesses
  • Using types of items
  • Access to premises
  • Travel – both international and national

The convicted person may also be enforced to disclose personal and business information on demand for a period.

Sexual Offences and the Sentencing Guidelines Council

In response to the 2003 Sexual Offences Act, the Sentencing Guidelines Council have laid out clear sentence guidelines for adult sexual offenders sentenced by courts. Dividing sexual offences into separate categories helps judges to decide on sentencing. As with all sentencing guidelines, there is levelling as to the seriousness involved. The act divides sexual offences into the following categories:

  1. Rape and assault offences
  2. Offences where the victim is a child
  3. Indecent Images of Children
  4. Exploitation offences
  5. Offences against those with a mental disorder
  6. Other sexual offences (including Voyeurism, Exposure, etc.)
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

Being accused of committing sexual offences can have disastrous consequences for you, your family and your reputation. It’s crucial that you hire Sexual Offence Solicitors who fully understand the implications and will do everything possible to chase the best possible solutions and best achievable results for you.

How Can Stuart Miller Solicitors Help?

With some of the most experienced and talented solicitors in the Criminal Law world, we have the right people to defend you in allegations of Sex Offences. We have a track record of success which can be found in the Sexual-Cases section of the website and we are proud of our pro-active and energetic approach to Criminal Defence. We are trusted and recognised as a firm of specialist Sexual Offences Solicitors and we have provided advice and guidance to journalists reporting in national newspapers such as the BBC and the Independent.

What will happen when I instruct a sexual offences lawyer?

No matter which sexual offences you are being accused of, we can help. Whether it’s any of the following allegations that you’re being faced with,  or another sexual offence claim, we can ensure that you’re provided with a highly competent sexual offences solicitor who will support you throughout the process:

  • Possessing and or Distributing Pornographic Material or Indecent Images
  • Sexual Assault or Rape
  • Sexual Grooming
  • Causing or Inciting Sexual Activity
  • Child Sex Offences
  • Historic Sexual Offences

Part of the process includes looking at the evidence in your case with your solicitor so that he or she can identify the strongest defence strategy. The goal is to present your case in the best way for the most successful outcome.

Our work handling sexual offences has been particularly successful with several acquittals secured in high profile offences. For example, we secured an acquittal for our client in the Oxford Grooming case. Our client was one of the two men who were acquitted, out of nine.

Due to the sensitive nature of our sexual offences cases, we publish very limited information about them on our website.

Another high-profile case involved a rape case which was connected to the killer of ‘Baby P’. We are considered the specialist solicitors for sexual offence cases and are available to create your defence strategy with you.

Our team are very competent and can support you in any sexual offences that you may be accused of. It’s critical that you engage a solicitor who has deep experience and knowledge of the laws. Being sensitive and considerate of the nature of the cases that we handle is also an important goal for us.

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.

Please contact our sexual offence solicitors to arrange your meeting, whether face to face, online or by telephone. If you prefer, you can also send us a WhatsApp message using the link in the bottom banner if you are viewing this page on a mobile phone device.

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


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