This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom - Content Editor - Brisbane

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

Sexual Offences


The Crimes Act 1900 provides for severe penalties for a wide range of offences of a sexual nature. Most sexual offences are based on a lack of consent by the victim. However, there are a small number of sexual offences for which the consent of the victim is irrelevant. These include incest and sex with a child under 16.

Sex without consent

The offence of having sexual intercourse with a person without the person’s consent carried a penalty of up to 12 years imprisonment (or 14 if the accused was in company with another person or persons.) This offence is committed if a person has sex with a person who does not consent to sex, knowing or being reckless as to whether the other person does not consent.

Sexual intercourse with young person

Sexual Intercourse With Young Person is the offence of having sex with a child below the age of 16. The maximum penalty that applies to this offence depends on the age of the alleged victim. If the child is under 10, a maximum penalty of 17 years imprisonment applies. If the child is between 10 and 16 a maximum penalty of 14 years applies.

Sexual assault

Sexual assault is one of the most serious sexual offences in the ACT. A person will be charged with sexual assault if they are alleged to have used coercion to have sexual intercourse. In other words, the person is alleged to have inflicted harm or threatened to inflict harm if the victim does not comply. A person can be charged with a sexual assault in the first, second, or third-degree in the ACT, depending on the degree of harm that is inflicted.

Indecent exposure

In the ACT, indecent exposure is a summary offence which carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for one year. It occurs when a person exposes their person in public or in view of the public.

Act of indecency

Under the ACT criminal law a person can be charged with committing an act of indecency in the first, second or third degree, or with committing an act of indecency without consent.

An act of indecency without consent occurs when a person touches another person sexually or engages in a sexual act towards another person without the other person’s consent.

An act of indecency in the first degree occurs when a person inflicts grievous bodily harm in order to commit an act of indecency. An act of indecency in the second degree occurs when a person inflicts actual bodily harm in order to commit an act of indecency. An act of indecency in the third degree occurs when a person commits an assault in order to commit an act of indecency.

Prostitution

Prostitution itself is not an offence in the ACT. However, there are a number of criminal offences relating to prostitution such as soliciting and procuring for prostitution.

Incest

In the ACT it is an offence to have sex with a person who is one’s lineal descendant, sibling, or stepchild. Unlike most sexual offences, the offence of incest does not require an absence of consent. The seriousness of the offence of incest depends on the age of the persons involved.

Using the internet to deprave children

The offence of using the Internet to deprave children covers the provision of pornographic material to children and the use of electronic means to suggest sexual acts to children under 16.

Child pornography

There are various sexual offences relating to child pornography in the ACT. These include possession of child pornography, trading in child pornography and using a child for the production of child pornography. A person in the ACT can also be charged with offences involving child pornography material outside Australia.

Grooming offences

In the ACT, it is an offence to groom a child to engage in sexual activity outside Australia. It is also an offence to use a postal service to groom children.

Sexual offences involving children outside Australia

In the ACT there are a number of offences involving sexual activity with children outside Australia. These include sexual activity (excluding intercourse) with a child outside Australia, sexual activity (excluding intercourse) with a young person outside Australia and sexual Intercourse with a child outside Australia.

Sexual servitude

In the ACT it is an offence to cause someone to enter into or remain in sexual servitude. The penalty that applies to this offence depends on whether the victim is an adult or a child.

Beastiality

The offence of beastiality occurs when a person has sexual intercourse with an animal. This offence can attract a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.

Other sexual Offences

Abduction with the intent of having sexual intercourse with the person abducted and bestiality (sexual activity with an animal) are both punishable on conviction by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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