Section 91FB Crimes Act | Meaning of Child Abuse Material


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The production, dissemination or possession of “child abuse material” is a serious criminal offence that can have a devastating impact on your life and relationships with your loved ones.

However, by understanding what the law says, you can put yourself in the best possible position when it comes to fighting the charges.

Our specialist sex offence lawyers can then work with you to defend the allegations by disputing the prosecution case and raising any defences to the charges.

If you’ve been charged with a “child abuse material” offence, it’s important to first understand what is meant by “child abuse material.”

The definition of “child abuse material” is contained in s 91FB of the Crimes Act.

Material may be classified as “child abuse material” where it depicts:

  • A child that is the victim of torture, cruelty or physical abuse, or
  • A child engaged in a sexual pose or a sexual activity, or
  • A child in the presence of another person that is engaged in a sexual pose or sexual activity, or
  • The private parts of a child.

Though many people often think of “child abuse material” as being videos or audiovisual material, it can also refer to photos, drawings, animations or even material that has been altered to make the person look like a child.

It’s also important to remember that you can be charged with a “child abuse material” offence even when the person who is the subject of the material is over the age of 18.

This means that where the subject is simply portrayed to be a child, for example, through their clothing, actions or words, the material can still be classified as “child abuse material.”

In determining whether the material in question is “child abuse material,” the court will consider whether ordinary persons would find the material to be offensive.

In doing so, the court can consider matters such as the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults.

The court can also consider whether the material had any literary, artistic, educational or journalistic merit, as well as the general character of the material (for example, where it has a medical, legal or scientific purpose).

For more information about child abuse material offences, see our offence page here.

For more information on a specific charge, take a look at our legislation pages which explain the offences of “production, dissemination or possession of child abuse material,” and “using a child to produce child abuse material.”

The Legislation

Section 91FB of the Crimes Act 1900 deals with the meaning of child abuse material and reads as follows:

91FB Child abuse material–meaning

(1) In this Division:“child abuse material” means material that depicts or describes, in a way that reasonable persons would regard as being, in all the circumstances, offensive:

(a) a person who is, appears to be or is implied to be, a child as a victim of torture, cruelty or physical abuse, or

(b) a person who is, appears to be or is implied to be, a child engaged in or apparently engaged in a sexual pose or sexual activity (whether or not in the presence of other persons), or

(c) a person who is, appears to be or is implied to be, a child in the presence of another person who is engaged or apparently engaged in a sexual pose or sexual activity, or

(d) the private parts of a person who is, appears to be or is implied to be, a child.

(2) The matters to be taken into account in deciding whether reasonable persons would regard particular material as being, in all the circumstances, offensive, include:

(a) the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults, and

(b) the literary, artistic or educational merit (if any) of the material, and

(c) the journalistic merit (if any) of the material, being the merit of the material as a record or report of a matter of public interest, and

(d) the general character of the material (including whether it is of a medical, legal or scientific character).

(3) Material that depicts a person or the private parts of a person includes material that depicts a representation of a person or the private parts of a person (including material that has been altered or manipulated to make a person appear to be a child or to otherwise create a depiction referred to in subsection (1)).

(4) The “private parts” of a person are:

(a) a person’s genital area or anal area, or

(b) the breasts of a female person.

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

If you’ve been charged with a child abuse material offence, it’s important to speak to a highly experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible.

The expert defence team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers specialises in defending sexual offence charges and has a proven track record of winning complex “child abuse material” cases.

Our Accredited Criminal Law Specialists can assist you in understanding the charges and can give you valuable advice about how to fight the charges.

Unlike other law firms, we always seek to have the charges withdrawn at an early stage, so that our clients are spared the time and expense of a lengthy and stressful criminal trial.

However, if the prosecution refuses to withdraw the charges, our team of senior lawyers will give you the best possible representation by presenting the facts of your case in court, along with any supporting evidence.

Where you simply wish to plead guilty to the charges, we can help portray your case in the most positive light to maximise your chances of getting the lenient penalty possible.

Call us 24/7 on (02) 9261 8881 to book a FREE first appointment with our expert lawyers to find out how you can win your child abuse material case.