Indecent Act with Child Under 16
In Victoria, the offence of indecent act with a child under 16 carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. The offence is contained in section 47 of the Crimes Act. That provision states that a person must not wilfully commit an indecent act with or in the presence of a child under 16. .
What the Police Must Prove
To find a person guilty of indecent act with a child under 16, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- They committed an indecent act or they were party to the commission of an indecent act;
- They committed the act with or in the presence of the victim;
- They did so wilfully;
- At the time of the indecent act the victim was under the age of 16; and
- The accused was not married to the victim.
There is no definition of what constitutes an ‘indecent act’ in the Crimes Act. It is any act that is contrary to community standards of decency.
Possible Defences for Indecent Act with a Child Under 16
A person charged with this offence may argue in their defence:
- That the victim consented and either:
- They believed on reasonable grounds that the child was 16 or older;
- They were not more than 2 years older than the victim
- They were 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.
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