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Act of Indecency


Committing an act of indecency without consent in the ACT is punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment.

This can be reduced to five years, if the matter can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

The Supreme Court has the power to impose the maximum, and statistics show it has sent to prison, immediately, 74.5 per cent of those sentenced for this offence in the almost six years to the end of March 2018. Another 22 per cent received suspended jail sentences.

In the Magistrates Court, less than half those sentenced got immediate full-time custody with 14 per cent receiving a full suspension.

The bottom line is that it is a serious offence and that in the current sentencing climate, with much publicity surrounding the #MeToo movement and the institutional Royal commission, defendants need to be thoroughly prepared.

The charge is rated more or less serious depending on whether there was skin-to-skin contact (as opposed to touching outside underwear or other clothing) and in what area of the body that contact occurred.

So, when a young man pleaded guilty recently to one count of this charge, involving skin-to-skin contact in the genital area, he knew he was very much facing prison time.

However, his subjective features, the circumstances leading to the offending, and his palpable remorse, were presented in such a way to allow the Court, on this occasion, to impose a suspended jail sentence.

The Magistrate noted these factors in his judgment, saying, “The references, the defendant’s letter and the Pre-Sentence Report describe the palpable effect that the offence has had on the defendant. It can be summarised as shock, disbelief, concern for the complainant, shame and the full acceptance of responsibility. He has taken tangible action consistent with those sentiments, including entering a plea of guilty at the very first court appearance, abstaining from alcohol consumption and participating in psychological treatment. He is clearly affected by the event and concerned about how his inappropriate behaviour will impact upon himself and others in the future.”

If you are facing a serious matter, you should seek advice from a specialist criminal lawyer. The team at Armstrong Legal deal only in criminal and traffic matters and can assist with any matters on the criminal calendar.

Image Credit – Iakov Filimonov © 123RF.com

Written by Andrew Fraser on November 16, 2018

Andrew represents clients in the ACT Supreme and Magistrates Courts as well as the NSW Local and District Courts of the Canberra region. He appears also before the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal in licensing, mental-health and other matters. His breadth of experience allows him to tailor his advice and submissions to ensure the best possible results for his clients. View Andrew's profile


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