Sexual offences are considered among the most serious of crimes. Being accused of such an offence can be extremely upsetting and confusing. These FAQs and responses have been compiled to help you better understand the situation you may be facing and what you need to do:
- What constitutes a sexual offence?
- What should I do if I’m accused of a sexual offence?
- What if it is a matter of disputed consent?
- What can be done to protect my identity and reputation?
- What is meant by a historic sexual offence?
- What evidence can be used in a historic offence?
- Is there a time limit for bringing a sexual offence claim?
- Is bail available in sexual offence cases?
The term sexual offence covers a variety of offences in Scotland. It includes rape, sexual assault, offences against children, grooming, the possession and distribution of indecent images and historic sex offences. The police should always be specific about which type of offence that you are being accused of.
Even if you are certain it is a false accusation, it is important that you speak to a criminal defence lawyer without delay. This is not seen as an admission of guilt and will be beneficial to your case.
You should not contact the person making the allegations as it could be interpreted as threatening behaviour. If there are records of any communications with them, make sure you keep them.
If you are due to be interviewed under caution by the police, you have the right to legal representation. Legal assistance with police interviews can have a key impact on how a case can unfold. Specialist representation will help with your preparation for the interview and get through what can be a daunting experience.
Consent is a critical concept in sexual offence cases. To be convicted, it is necessary to convince a jury that the accused did not reasonably believe that the complainer had given consent. It is one of the most complicated areas of criminal law needing specialist assistance.
The issue of intoxication and how it can affect consent often comes up in allegations and is another reason why you need to consult a lawyer experienced in dealing with sexual offences.
Sexual offence allegations can attract publicity and can be very damaging to an individual’s reputation and career. If the accused has not yet been charged, the police can be requested not to release their identity. In some cases, this may not be possible if the police believe it to be in the public interest to release information.
Once charged, there is no right to anonymity in a sexual offence case, but there are ways to manage the minimisation of reputational damage. Our leading criminal defence team are on hand to fight your corner.
Historic sexual offences are offences that occurred some time ago. Allegations can come as a shock and charges can be life-altering. As such, it is important to instruct the help of a historic sexual offence lawyer as early as possible. By doing so, you can ensure that your defence is thoroughly prepared and your reputation is well protected.
If you are facing allegations of a historic sexual offence, you will be asked to attend an interview at the police station. Having a solicitor present is crucial to not only discover the strength of the case against you, but to make you fully aware of your rights.
The reliability of evidence and the need for ‘corroboration’ in historic sexual offence cases can be challenging. With no scientific or physical evidence, the case will depend on witness statements and third-party institutional information (such as medical records and social service reports). Full examination of these records and statements by the authorities may lead to the conclusion that there is no reasonable prospect of a successful prosecution.
There is no time limit as to when a sexual offence may be prosecuted. If there is thought to be sufficient evidence and it is deemed to be in the public interest, prosecution will be pursued. If convicted, the penalty will depend on the law at the time the alleged offence was committed and on its nature.
Normally, the accused will be released on bail unless it is successfully argued that it should not be granted. This may be because of concerns about non-attendance at Court or the possibility of committing further offences or interfering with witnesses.
Contact our Sexual Offence Solicitors Kirkcaldy, Alloa, Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Scotland
Sexual offence cases are complex and require the help of experienced specialist criminal defence lawyers. We have the expertise to guide through the whole process from the police interview onwards. If your livelihood is at stake as a result of a sexual offence allegation, you can trust the solicitors at Martin, Johnston & Socha to help.
Our legal team defend clients in Alloa, Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy, Methil, Perth, Stirling and throughout Scotland. We offer a free, initial consultation to discuss your case. Contact us by making an online enquiry or by telephone in Dunfermline on 01383 730 466, in Kirkcaldy on 01592 640 680, in Alloa on 01259 725 922.