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INDECENT TREATMENT OF A CHILD UNDER 16

Indecent treatment of a child under 16 is one of the most common sexual offences police charge people with in Queensland. The offence often arises in situations where the complainant and defendant know each other. The offence often comes to police attention during disclosures made by the child to a schoolteacher, friend, or parent.

 

WHAT IS THE CHARGE OF INDECENT TREATMENT OF A CHILD UNDER 16?

 

Section 210 of the Criminal Code details the criminal offence. A person will be guilty of the offence if they do any of the following:

(1) unlawfully and indecently deal with a child under the age of 16 years.

(2) unlawfully procure a child under the age of 16 years to commit an indecent act.

(3) unlawfully permit themself to be indecently dealt with by a child under the age of 16 years.

(4) wilfully and unlawfully expose a child under the age of 16 years to an indecent act by the offender or any other person.

(5) without legitimate reason, wilfully expose a child under the age of 16 years to any indecent object or any indecent film, videotape, audiotape, picture, photograph or printed or written matter.

(6) without legitimate reason, take any indecent photograph or record, by means of any device, any indecent visual image of a child under the age of 16 years.

 

You may be wondering what the words “unlawfully”, “deal with”, “indecent”, “without legitimate reason” “wilfully”, “permitted” and “procured” mean when determining if an offence has been committed.

 

Deal With

Section 210(6) of the Criminal Code defines “deals with” as:

deals with includes doing any act which, if done without consent, would constitute an assault as defined in this Code.

 

The word “deal with” includes touching the child. The defendant does not need to have touched the child with their hand, it can be any part of the defendant’s body.

 

Indecent

The word “indecent” is given its ordinary everyday meaning. It is what the community would deem to be indecent (i.e. it is what offends against currently accepted standards of decency). Indecency is always judged in the light of time, place and circumstances.

 

Unlawful

The word “unlawful” means not justified authorised or excused by law.

 

Without Legitimate Reason

Whether or not the defendant acted without a legitimate reason is a question of fact and is decided by the jury.

 

Wilfully

To do something wilfully means the defendant deliberately or intentionally did it.

 

Permitted

Permitted means to allow.

 

Procured

Procured means to bring about.

 

 

WHAT MUST THE PROSECUTION PROVE?

For a person to be found guilty of the offence of indecent treatment of a child under 16, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt:

 

Section 210(1)(a) – Deal With

  1. The defendant dealt with the child;
  2. The dealing was indecent;
  3. The dealing was unlawful; and
  4. The child was under 16 years of age.

 

Section 210(1)(b) – Procure

  1. The defendant procured the child;
  2. The procurement was for the purpose of committing an indecent act;
  3. The procurement was unlawful; and
  4. The child was under 16 years of age.

 

Section 210(1)(c)- Permit

  1. The defendant permitted himself/herself to be dealt with by the child;
  2. The dealing by the child with the defendant was indecent;
  3. The dealing was unlawful; and
  4. The child was under 16 years of age.

 

Section 210(1)(d): Exposing to an Act

  1. The defendant exposed the child to an act.
  2. The act the defendant exposed the child to was indecent;
  3. The exposure to the act was unlawful; and
  4. The child was under 16 years of age.

 

Section 210(1)(e) – Exposing to indecent film etc.

  1. The defendant exposed the child to an indecent object or any indecent film, videotape, audiotape, picture, photograph or printed or written matter
  2. The defendant did not have a legitimate reason for exposing the child to the object or material; and
  3. The child was under 16 years of age.

 

Section 210(1)(f) – Take Photo or Recording

  1. The defendant took a photograph or visual image of the child or recorded the child in any way;
  2. The photograph, visual image or recording of the child taken by the defendant was indecent; and
  3. The defendant did not have a legitimate reason for taking the photograph, visual image or recording of the child.

 

WHAT IS THE SENTENCE FOR INDECENT TREATMENT OF A CHILD UNDER 16?

The maximum penalty for the offence depends on a variety of things, including:

  1. The age of the child.
  2. The relationship between the child and defendant.
  3. If the child had an impairment of the mind.
  4. If the defendant had the child under their care at the time of the offence.

 

The maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment if the child was 12 years or older at the time of the offence.

 

The maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment if at the time of the offence:

(a) the child was under 12 years of age.

(b) the child was to the defendant’s knowledge his or her lineal descendant.

(c) the defendant was the child’s guardian.

(d) the defendant had the child under their care.

(e) the child was a person with an impairment of the mind.

 

WHERE WILL MY CHARGE BE HEARD?

 

A charge of indecent treatment of a child under 16 must be dealt with in the District Court.

 

WHAT DEFENCES ARE THERE FOR INDECENT TREATMENT OF A CHILD UNDER 16?

 

  1. If it is alleged the child was 12 years or older, it is a defence if the defendant believed on reasonable grounds the child was 16 years or older.

 

  1. If it is alleged the child had an impairment of the mind, it is a defence if the defendant believed on reasonable grounds the child did not have an impairment of the mind.

 

  1. Alibi- the defendant could not have committed the offence because they were elsewhere at the time.

 

  1. The defendant did not do what is alleged.

 

  1. Accident.

 

  1. Nothing was indecent.

 

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF CHARGED WITH INDECENT TREATMENT OF A CHILD UNDER 16

If the police has charged you with indecent treatment of a child under 16, get legal advice now. Don’t sit back thinking the charge will go away. Every criminal offence is serious and can have serious consequences for you. A conviction for this offence will have significant repercussions for you. You need the experience of the Criminal Lawyers Brisbane Group in your corner fighting for you. Pick up the phone and dial (07) 3153 6215 or fill out the form below for a free no-obligation chat. Contacting us may be the best thing you do.

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