Carnal knowledge is defined as sexual “penetration to any extent”. In Queensland, under the Criminal Code Act 1899, an offence is committed when any person has, or attempts to have, unlawful carnal knowledge with or of a child aged under 16.
Hefty penalties apply to offences of carnal knowledge with or of a child aged under 16. If the child is aged 12 or older, the offender is liable to 14 years imprisonment. If the child is aged under 12, the offender faces life imprisonment, or 14 years imprisonment if the offence is an attempt to have unlawful carnal knowledge.
If the child is not a family member, but the offender is the child’s guardian or has the child under their care, the offender is liable to imprisonment for life, or for 14 years in the case of an attempt to have unlawful carnal knowledge.
It is a defence is the accused person can prove that they reasonably believed that the child was aged 16 or older. It is not a defence if the child consented to the sex.
Any person who has or tries to have unlawful carnal knowledge with or of a person with a mental impairment is liable to 14 years imprisonment. If the person with a mental impairment is not a family member of the offender but the offender is the person’s guardian or has the person under their care, the offender is liable to imprisonment for life, or for 14 years in the case of an attempt to have unlawful carnal knowledge.
Any person who procures a child or person with a mental impairment to engage in carnal knowledge is liable to 14 years imprisonment. “Procure” means to knowingly entice or recruit for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
A defence exists in the case of an aggravated offence if the accused person believed on reasonable grounds that the child did not have a mental impairment.
Other sexual offences involving children
There are other offences in the Act that relate to sexual contact with children.
One is indecent treatment of a child aged under 16, an offence which is broader than the offence of carnal knowledge because it includes sexual contact that does not involve penetration. It includes indecently assaulting a child, procuring a child to commit an indecent act, exposing a child to an indecent act, and taking indecent photos or videos of a child.
Other offences include using the internet to procure a child aged under 16 to engage in a sexual act, involving a child in making child exploitation material, and maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child aged under 16.
Child Protection Offender Registry
In Queensland, when a person is found guilty of certain sexual offences involving children, including carnal knowledge offences, the person is placed on a Child Protection Offender Register. The register was created under the Child Protection (Offender Reporting and Offender Prohibition Order) Act 2004.
The register requires a “reportable offender” to keep police informed of their whereabouts and personal details for a period of time to:
- reduce the likelihood of reoffending;
- help investigate and prosecute offences;
- prohibit offenders from engaging in conduct that risks the lives or sexual safety of children.
The scheme requires offenders to report and comply with obligations for a period of between 2 ½ years and life, depending on factors such as the seriousness and timing of the offences, and the offender’s age at the time of offending.
For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.