The sentencing laws around sex offences are complicated, and the severity of a sentence depends on a range of factors including the nature of the offence, steps towards rehabilitation and whether the person who committed it is believed to be likely to reoffend.
Sentencing sex offenders in NSW is taken very seriously, and generally sentences are harsh.
Sex offences cover a broad range of different acts, from indecent exposure to child pornography, and the penalties vary from fines, to long-term imprisonment, and mandatory inclusion on the sex offenders’ register.
Serious sex offenders can even be kept in prison beyond their court-mandated sentences, under the Crimes (Serious Sex Offenders) Act 2006 (NSW).
As sentencing sex offenders has so many implications for the future of the accused, any sex offence charge should be taken seriously.
The sex offences that are considered less serious, such as indecent assault, come with a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, if tried in the district court.
If a person is found guilty of a more serious sex offence, they can face life imprisonment.
What if I am convicted of a sex crime?
If you are convicted of a sex offence, it can significantly impact your ability to find work, or even travel, in the future.
If you are required to register on the NSW sex offenders’ register, it can impact where you are allowed to live and work, and restrict your freedom, for years to come.
What is the sex offenders’ register?
The NSW Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 states that if you are convicted of a child sex offence, such as sexual assault or child pornography, whether in NSW or another jurisdiction, you are required to register on the NSW child protection register, and advise authorities if your details change. You will be required to provide certain details, including:
- Your name and any other names you are identified by
- Your address
- Your employment details
- Your date of birth
- Your vehicle details
- Details of your offences
- Details of any tattoos or other distinguishing marks
- The names and details of any children you live with
- Details of any organisations you are a member of, which have affiliations with children
- The details of all email addresses, usernames and instant messaging names you hold
- Details of your ISP and type of internet connection, and telephone provider
- DNA profile, as well as fingerprints and photographs
You are required to update your information annually, and within 14 days if your circumstances change. Examples of changes to your circumstances include buying a new vehicle, moving house, or changing your job.
The information on the child protection register is not available to the public.
Depending on the nature of your offence, you will be required to report for a minimum of eight years, and in some cases for life.
Your reporting requirement will begin when you are sentenced, or if you are sentenced to a prison term, when you are released.
The penalties for serious sex offences in NSW are onerous, from lengthy prison terms, to lifelong reporting requirements.
If you are facing charges for a sex offence, it is essential that you find an experienced lawyer who has a proven record of defending sex charges.
In some cases, an experienced lawyer may be able to help you get the charges withdrawn or dismissed, or enable you to avoid a prison term.
As well as the likely penalties, a sex offence conviction can have a long-lasting impact on your life and career, so it’s important to make sure you give yourself the best chance of a successful outcome in your case.