This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Indecent Act with Child Aged 16 or 17


In Victoria, the offence of indecent act with a child aged 16 or 17 carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment. This offence applies only to persons who have care, supervision or authority over the child. In Victoria, an adult can lawfully have sex with a child aged 16 or 17 provided they are not in a position of authority over the child.

Legislation on indecent act with child aged 16 or 17

The offence is contained in section 49 of the Crimes Act which states:

A person must not wilfully commit, or wilfully be in any way a party to the commission of, an indecent act with or in the presence of a 16 or 17 year old child to whom he or she is not married and who is under his or her care, supervision or authority.

What the Police Must Prove

To find a person guilty of indecent act with a child aged 16 or 17, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. They committed an indecent act or you were party to the commission of an indecent act;
  2. They committed the act with or in the presence of the victim;
  3. They did so wilfully;
  4. At the time of the indecent act the victim was aged 16 or 17;
  5. The accused was not married to the victim; and
  6. The victim was under the accused’s care, supervision or authority.

Section 49 of the Crimes Act expressly provides that a child is under someone’s care, supervision or authority if they are the child’s:

  • Teacher
  • Foster parent
  • Legal guardian
  • Minister of religion with pastoral responsibility for the child
  • Employer
  • Youth worker
  • Sports coach
  • Counsellor
  • Health professional

Possible Defences for Indecent Act with a Child Under 16

A person charged with this offence may argue in their defence that:

  • The child consented and they believed on reasonable grounds that the child was 18 or older; or
  • That the accused was married to the child.

What Court will Hear this Matter?

The matter is an indictable offence, meaning it is usually heard in the County Court. In some circumstances, it can be dealt with in Magistrates’ Court.

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

WHERE TO NEXT?

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.

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