201 Elizabeth Street
Sydney NSW 2000
575 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
231 North Quay
Brisbane QLD 4000
1 Farrell Place
Canberra ACT 2601
111 St Georges Terrace
Perth WA 6000
Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
The offence of Sexual Touching replaced the offence of Indecent Assault in New South Wales on 1 December 2018. The new offence was introduced as part of a package of reforms designed to modernise and bring greater coherency to sexual offences, particularly those committed against children and persons in a special care relationship.
The offence of Sexual Touching is punishable by a maximum of 5 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of 7 years’ imprisonment where it is an aggravated offence. These are the same penalties that were applicable for Indecent Assault and Aggravated Indecent Assault (where the victim was of or above the age of 16 years) respectively.
New offences have also been introduced where the complainant is under the age of 16 years or is between 16 and 18 years and under the special care of the accused. You will find information about these charges at the bottom of this page.
In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a Sexual Touching charge.
You'll find a brief description of each of these penalties at the bottom of this page.
Any person (the alleged offender) who without the consent of another person (the alleged victim) and knowing that the alleged victim does not consent, intentionally:
is guilty of an offence.
A person who commits the offence of Sexual Touching is liable 5 years’ imprisonment.
Where a person commits the offence in circumstances of aggravation he or she is liable to 7 years’ imprisonment.
“Circumstances of aggravation” means circumstances in which:
“Sexual touching” is defined as a person touching another person:
The matters to be taken into account in deciding whether a reasonable person would consider touching to be sexual include:
Examples of Sexual Touching include:
To be found guilty of Sexual Touching the prosecution needs to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you:
Intentionally, did one of the following:
and it was done:
If the prosecution does not prove each of the elements above beyond reasonable doubt you will be found not guilty.
If the prosecution proves each of the above elements beyond reasonable doubt you may still rely on one of the following defences:
This charge is a Table 2 offence which means that the DPP can elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court. However, if no election is made, it will remain in the Local Court.
Special offences exist where an alleged victim is under the age of 10 years or between the ages of 10 and 16 years. For these offences, whether the alleged victim consented and the alleged offender knew the alleged victim consented are irrelevant.
Sexual touching of a child under the age of 10 years is punishable by 16 years’ imprisonment.
Sexual touching of a child between the ages of 10 and 16 years is punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment.
These charges are Table 1 offences which means that either an accused or the Director of Public Prosecutions can elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court. However if no election is made, it will remain in the Local Court.
There is a special offence where an alleged victim is between 16 and 18 years of age and under the special care of the alleged offender.
An alleged victim is under the “special care” of an alleged offender if, and only if:
For this offence, whether the alleged victim consented and the alleged offender knew the alleged victim consented are irrelevant.
A person does not commit this offence if the person and the alleged victim were married to each other at the time of the offence.
Where the alleged victim is of or above the age of 16 years and under the age of 17 years the offence is punishable by 4 years’ imprisonment.
Where the alleged victim is of or above the age of 17 years and under the age of 18 years the offence is punishable by 2 years’ imprisonment.
This charge is a Table 2 offence which means that the DPP can elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court. However if no election is made, it will remain in the Local Court.
Home Detention for Sexual Touching: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 as a standalone order but may be imposed as a condition of an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO). Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.
Intensive correction order for Sexual Touching (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.
Suspended sentence for Sexual Touching: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018. This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.
Community service order for Sexual Touching (CSO): As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.
Good behaviour bond for Sexual Touching charge: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.
Community Corrections Orders (CCO): A CCO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the Community Corrections Orders (CCO). Additional conditions may be imposed at the discretion of the court, both at the time of sentence and subsequently upon application by a community corrections officer, juvenile justice officer or the offender. Read more.
Conditional Release Order (CRO): A CRO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the CRO. Read more.
Section 10 for Sexual Touching: Avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.