If you have been charged with grooming or inciting a minor, get in touch with a specialist solicitor without delay. Expert legal advice is crucial at the early stages in any investigation to ensure you are given the best possible defence. We understand the upset and stress this may be causing you and your family, and the impact a conviction of sexual offences can have, which is why our solicitors will leave no stone unturned to ensure you have the best possible defence strategy. With the increasing popularity of social media, chat room and gaming platforms, this type of offence is not only more prevalent, but the likelihood of being embroiled in such a situation is becoming an increasing concern – where someone’s online behaviour turns from an innocent communication to potentially criminal activity.
Grooming & the Law in England and Wales
It is an offence in England and Wales to engage in a friendship with a child and meet (or intend to meet) with the child with the intention of sexually abusing them.
In order to make a conviction for a grooming offence, the Crown must show that there was a communication or meeting with a child on two or more occasions, and that the defendant travelled to meet the child with the intention of committing a sexual offence. In fact, the child does not need to exist; it is only necessary to show that the defendant had the intention of meeting a child with a view to committing a sexual offence.
It is an offence in England and Wales to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity where the child is under the age of 13 – irrespective of the age of the defendant. It is also an offence where a person over the age of 18 incites or encourages a child (under the age of 13, or under the age of 16 where the defendant did not reasonably believe they were 16 or over) to engage in sexual activity.
There is also a more recent offence of “sexual communication with a child”, which was introduced in 2015 in response to the growing concerns around child sex abuse on social media. A person over 18 will be guilty of this offence where they communicate with a child verbally, pictorially or in writing for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification. The communication must be sexual, or be intended to elicit a sexual response.
How are Grooming and Inciting a Minor Offences Investigated?
Charges of Grooming and Inciting a Minor are often brought where a parent, teacher or carer has uncovered inappropriate communication towards a child, and any such complaint is dealt with extremely seriously. Undercover police investigations also target social media platforms to root out potential grooming behaviour. With the best defence on your side, you can ensure your voice is heard – which could be the difference between a devastating conviction and an acquittal.
Grooming and Inciting a Minor Defence
Although entrapment is not a defence to such offences, in some cases, the police will act outside of their remit in an attempt to entrap a suspect, which can then be brought to the Crown’s attention and can have the result of nullifying the charges brought. How communications with the child are interpreted will be crucial to your case, as will other factors such as the age difference between the defendant and alleged victim. Where the person suspected of grooming is also young, and close in age to the alleged victim, this will be taken into consideration. Where, for example, fantasy and real intent can be distinguished, this can contribute significantly to your defence. We will carefully examine each piece of evidence carefully, leading no stone unturned, as often evidence can be deemed inadmissible for many different reasons.
Risk of Sexual Harm Orders/Sexual Risk Orders
A Risk of Sexual Harm Order, or a Sexual Risk Order, introduced by the Sexual Offences Act 2003, can be imposed on adults to prevent them from engaging in inappropriate sexual behaviour, such as approaching children online. The police can apply for such orders if they believe that someone poses a risk to young people under 16. The order will have the effect of applying prohibitions to behaviour, such as communication with a child or children online. Prohibitions are tailored to the specific case, and must be proportionate to the risk posed. If you have been subject to an order under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, these can be challenged. Where appropriate, our solicitors will apply to the court for the order to be discharged or varied.
Our expert sexual offences defence solicitors have a vast amount of experience and knowledge in this particular field. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at the soonest opportunity. The courts treat all sexual offences seriously, and a conviction will have a significant effect on your life, and almost certainly carries the risk of a prison sentence. This means that it is important for you to have the best representation to ensure you have strong, dependable advice.
Grooming/Inciting a Minor Legal Advice, Manchester
If you have been accused of grooming or inciting a minor, or if you wish to know where you stand in relation to an investigation into a sexual offence, contact us today. We specialise in serious crime, and have a proven track record in successfully handling sexual offence cases. Regardless of where you are in the country, our solicitors can help. We have the experience and dedication to help you through what can be a complex and difficult process.
Stephen Lickrish & Associates Solicitors in Manchester offer specialist advice and representation on sexual offences. Contact us today on 0161 237 1913 or on 0800 988 64 22 for 24-hour legal advice. Alternatively, contact us by filling out our enquiry form.