The NSW Government has introduced new laws targeted at child sexual offenders with the intention of making prosecuting alleged child sexual offenders easier. The new laws include the offence of grooming a parent or carer to access a child.
Section 66EC of the Criminal Legislation Amendment (Child Sexual Abuse) Act 2018 now makes it an offence for:
Where this offence is committed and the child is under the age of 14 years, the accused may be imprisoned for 6 years, or in any other case for 5 years.
This follows evidence being given in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which detailed offenders gaining access to children by gaining the trust of parents and carers or ‘grooming’ parents or carers. The Royal Commission then recommended each state and territory government should introduce laws to amend its criminal legislation to allow a broad grooming offence that captures any communication or conduct with a child with the intention of grooming the child to be involved in a sexual offence.
Section 66EC is now included in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) in addition to Section 66EB – Procuring or grooming a child under 16 for unlawful sexual activity. This offence carries a penalty of up to 15 years imprisonment where the child is under the age of 14 years or in any other case – imprisonment for 12 years. Offences under Section 66EB also carry standard non parole periods of at least 4 years and up to 6 years. This means if you are found guilty of an offence under Section 66EB, your sentence will be at least 4 years in prison.
Previously conduct such as providing a parent or carer with some kind of benefit with the intention of making it easier to procure a child for unlawful sexual activity was not a criminal offence in NSW.
Section 66EC is vague in its terms and the essential element that the police must prove for a defendant to be found guilty of this offence is that the defendant had the intention of making it easier to procure a child for unlawful sexual activity. If this element is not proved beyond a reasonable doubt then a defendant cannot be found guilty of this offence.
Unless the evidence the police seek to rely on to prove an accused person committed the criminal act proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person did commit the criminal act, then the accused person is not guilty. An expert criminal defence lawyer can argue your case and in doing so can ensure the best possible outcome is achieved. This may include:
If you are charged with an offence of grooming a parent or carer with the intention of gaining access to a child for unlawful sexual activity or grooming a child for unlawful sexual activity, you should speak with a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. These are extremely serious charges and if found guilty there is a chance you may be sent to prison.
Sexual offences against children are considered among the most serious criminal offences. As a result, if a person is charged with a sexual offence against a child it is likely they will be ostracized by the community, face unemployment and be limited in where they can travel to. A person will likely face these difficulties before they have had an opportunity to defend the charge(s) in court and before they have been found guilty (if they are found guilty). There are countless cases of persons being charged with serious offence(s) such as a sexual offence against a child and the person is subsequently found completely innocent of all charges. For these reasons it is essential to speak with an expert criminal defence lawyer if you have been charged with any criminal offence or you think you may be charged with a criminal offence.
George Sten & Co have decades of experience defending people accused of serious criminal offences. To speak with an expert criminal defence lawyer, call George Sten & Co on (02) 9261 8640 or 0412 423 569 after business hours. We may also be contacted via email at [email protected].