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Sexual Touching Offences and Acts in Australia

Sexual touching offences and acts are serious criminal charges in Australia.  This article explains the legal definition of the offences and acts and the potential penalties.

Sexual touching offences

A sexual touching offence is a very serious offence that involves circumstances where a person sexually touches another person without their consent.  Sexual touching is defined as the touching of another person, with any part of the body or with anything else, or through anything, including anything worn by the person doing the touching or by the person being touched, in circumstances where a reasonable person would consider the touching to be sexual.

When considering whether touching is sexual, the court will consider the area of the body touched, whether the person doing the touching did so for a sexual reason or any other aspect of the touching that may make it sexual.

A person will be guilty of a sexual touching offence if they intentionally, without the alleged victim’s consent and with knowledge that the alleged victim does not consent:

  • Sexually touches the alleged victim, or
  • Incites the alleged victim to sexually touch the alleged offender, or
  • Incites a third person to sexually touch the alleged victim, or
  • Incites the alleged victim to sexually touch a third person.

Touching for genuine medical or hygienic purposes are not considered sexual touching.

Aggravated sexual touching offences

An aggravated sexual touching offence is a more serious form of a sexual touching offence. An aggravated sexual touching offence occurs where there is a sexual touching offence is committed in circumstances of aggravation.  Circumstances of aggravation include instances where:

  • The alleged offender is in the company of another person or persons, or
  • The alleged victim is under the authority of the alleged offender, or
  • The alleged victim has a serious physical disability, or
  • The alleged victim has a cognitive impairment.

Penalties for Sexual Touching

The penalties associated with sexual touching offences are very serious.  The maximum penalty for a sexual touching offence is 5 years imprisonment.  The maximum penalty for an aggravated sexual touching offence is 7 years imprisonment.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

What is a sexual act offence?

This is a serious criminal offence that involves sexual acts that do not include sexual touching.  A sexual act is an act that is carried out in circumstances where a reasonable person would consider the act to be sexual. When considering whether an act is sexual the court will consider the area of the body involved in the act, the reason the act was being performed and any other aspect of the act which may render it sexual in nature.

A person will be guilty of a sexual act offence if they intentionally, without the alleged victim’s consent and with knowledge that the alleged victim does not consent carries out a sexual act with or towards the alleged victim, or

  • Incites the alleged victim to carry out a sexual act with or towards the alleged offender, or
  • Incites a third person to carry out a sexual act with or towards the alleged victim, or
  • Incites the alleged victim to carry out a sexual act with or towards a third person.

Acts for genuine medical or hygienic purposes are not considered a sexual act.

Aggravated sexual act offences

An aggravated sexual act offence is a more serious form of a sexual act offence. An aggravated sexual act offence occurs where the offence is intentionally carried out in circumstances of aggravation. Circumstances of aggravation include where:

  • The alleged offender is in the company of another person or persons, or
  • The alleged victim is under the authority of the alleged offender, or
  • The alleged victim has a serious physical disability, or
  • The alleged victim has a cognitive impairment.

Penalties for Sexual Acts

The penalties for sexual act offences are very serious. The maximum penalty for a sexual act offence is 18 months imprisonment.  The maximum penalty for an aggravated sexual act offence is 3 years imprisonment.

Why BSM Lawyers?

Being charged with a sexual touching or sexual act offence is very serious.  It is important that you seek legal advice.  Brander Smith McKnight’s criminal defence lawyers have extensive experience with sexual offences and have represented and achieved excellent results for our clients.  Our lawyers regularly attend the Local and District Courts.  We will listen carefully to you, review the representations from the police and liaise with the prosecutors to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

We are conveniently located in Sutherland, Parramatta, Sydney CBD and Wollongong.

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