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If you have been accused of a historic sexual offence, your reputation is on the line. These cases are complex and notoriously challenging to defend. As a highly successful defence barrister with unrivalled experience in this niche area of law, I can protect you, your career and your family from the serious risk of injustice.

For immediate, initial advice without charge, contact me directly today.

What is a historic sex offence?

A historic sexual offence is any sex crime that took place at a previous time. Whilst it could have occurred decades ago, it may also have happened in the more recent past.

When are historic sexual offences prosecuted?

In England and Wales, there is no time limit on when a sexual offence may be prosecuted. The police and Crown Prosecution Service will investigate a complaint of historic sexual abuse as thoroughly as a current case, even if it took place decades ago. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) may prosecute an alleged perpetrator if there is sufficient evidence to support a conviction and they believe it is in the public interest to do so.

How are historic sexual offences investigated?

When investigating a historical sexual offence, the police and CPS will look for evidence to corroborate a complainant’s account. They may search institutional records, such as from schools or hospitals. However, material evidence is typically rare in historical cases, so investigations will generally focus on communicating with potential witnesses and uncovering any other possible victims.

Your home may be searched for evidence if you are under investigation, including electronic devices that need to be removed for analysis. You will either be arrested or asked to come to the police station for an interview. You are entitled to have a solicitor present whilst being questioned to ensure your rights are properly protected.   

How are historic sex crimes prosecuted?

Historic sexual offences are dealt with under the laws that existed at the time of the alleged offence, most often the Sexual Offences Act 1956. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 is current law and will apply to any historic sexual crimes committed since it came into force on 1 May 2004.

Sentencing

Since offences are prosecuted in line with the legislation in force when they were committed, the potential sentences for a particular crime can vary. For instance, an act of indecency with a child could carry a maximum sentence of two or ten years imprisonment, depending on whether it was committed before or after 1 October 1997. Where the maximum sentence has been reduced since the time of the offence, the lower sentence will apply.

Convicted offenders will also receive ancillary orders, like being added to the sex offenders’ register.

Why are historical sexual offences not prosecuted at the time?

Crimes may not be prosecuted when they are committed because the victim or victims felt unable to come forward or believed, rightly or wrongly, that their claims would not have been taken seriously.

In some cases, the victim may have provided testimony and evidence to the police, but the decision was taken not to prosecute. For instance, in two of the most high-profile cases of historic sexual offences, the Rochdale child sex abuse ring and Jimmy Savile’s crimes, police and the CPS were aware of complaints at the time, but the decision was taken not to prosecute due to concerns about securing convictions.

Uncovering the past

The decisions in these cases have been heavily criticised and reversed, heralding an unyielding scrutiny of the past and intense public attention to historic sexual offences. This new atmosphere has encouraged complainants to come forward and share their stories and, to counter the mistakes of the past, action is now more likely to be taken based on complainants’ testimony. The CPS is under renewed pressure to secure convictions, and defence lawyers must be aware of the possible impact of the current legal, media and public attitude towards historic sexual offences on defendants’ cases.

Can a historic sexual offence case result in a miscarriage of justice?

Historical cases of sexual abuse are complex and extremely challenging for the criminal justice system. Material evidence is typically sparse, and so reliance is placed on the memories of the complainant and the accused, even where a significant amount of time has passed. Establishing the truth can therefore be difficult, making the potential for injustice high.

The risk to the accused’s reputation

An allegation of a historic sexual crime can be deeply distressing for the accused and their family. It can cast doubt on their character and pose a threat to the lives they have built for themselves, potentially undermining their relationships and jeopardising their career.  

Given the considerable danger of a miscarriage of justice and the devastating consequences to the accused if this happens, it is vitally important that the defence understands how to approach these delicate, multifaceted and emotive cases. They must provide a robust defence and protect the accused’s right to a fair trial to ensure their client’s reputation is wholly preserved.

Contact Mark Kelly QC for Specialist Historic Sex Abuse Defence Advocacy

As a criminal barrister experienced in cases of historic sexual abuse, I can provide you with a staunch defence that shields you, your reputation and the people you care about from the fallout of an allegation. Not only do I understand the intricacies and nuances of these cases, but I also appreciate their sensitive and emotional nature. My expertise, approachability and discretion mean I am well positioned to support and guide you through every stage in your case, including representing you in court. Act now to protect your future – speak to me today for straightforward, free initial advice.

Contact me now

Need down-to-earth, straight-forward free initial advice? Talk direct to me today.

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