Sexual Assault by Touching

Sexual Assault, Indecent Assault, Sexual Touching

The offence of sexual assault is a serious offence under the English criminal law, and is defined under section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

If you are accused of sexual assault, the prosecution must prove that:

  • You have intentionally touched another person,
  • That the touching was sexual, or sexually motivated,
  • That the other person did not consent to being touched in this way, and
  • That you did not have a reasonable belief that the other person was consenting to being touched in that way.

Touching includes any physical contact, whether directly with a part of your body, or with anything else. It included touching through clothing, as well as direct contact with the other person’s skin.

The common issues in a case of sexual assault relate to consent (and the reasonable belief in consent), and whether or not the physical contact was sexual. If the sexual element is not proven, then it is still possible for a non-sexual assault to have been committed.

Sexual assault is an either way offence. This means it can be dealt with by either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court depending on seriousness. The Magistrates can impose a maximum of 6 months imprisonment, while the Crown Court sentencing power is a maximum of 10 years.  Almost all offences will justify immediate imprisonment, but there is the possibility for the most minor form of the offence to be dealt with by a Community Penalty, or more likely a Suspended Sentence Order.

As well as the immediate sentence, anyone convicted of sexual assault would have to comply with the conditions of the Sex Offenders Register.

As sexual assault allegations are so serious, and even being accused of the offence can cause a suspect great anxiety, it is important that you are represented by an experienced specialist solicitor, who knows the best way to prepare your defence. If you need more information about sexual assault allegations, contact us and we can try to recommend a specialist criminal defence lawyer who can help you.

See also: