Identifying Complainants in Sexual Offences is an offence under section 578A of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 6 months in prison.
To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
- You published a matter, and
- That publication identified a complainant in a prescribed sexual offence, or was likely to lead to the complainant’s identification
To ‘publish’ includes to broadcast by radio or television, as well as to disseminate by any other electronic means, including the internet and includes images as well as descriptions.
‘Prescribed sexual offences’ include:
- All forms of sexual assault
- A range of sexual offences against children under the age of 16, and
- Child abuse material and child pornography offences
The offence extends beyond the finalisation of cases even where the defendant is ultimately found not guilty.
The offence does not apply where the publication:
- Is authorised by the judge in the proceedings concerned
- Is authorised under section 15D of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 which requires a court to consider various matters before approving publication
- Is made with the consent of a complainant over the age of 14
- Is an official law report or official publication in the course of, and for the purposes of, the proceedings concerned
- Is a transcript of the proceedings concerned and is supplied to persons who have a genuine interest in the proceedings or who are using it for genuine research purposes, or
- Is made after the complainant’s death
The offence is additional to any other prohibitions in the law.
If you are going to court for Prohibition of Publication Identifying Victims of Certain Sexual Offences, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers 24/7 on (02) 9261 8881 to arrange a free first conference with an experienced defence lawyer who will advise you of your options and the best way forward, and fight to secure the optimal outcome.
Read on for more information.
Section 578A of the Crimes Act 1900 deals with the offence of ‘Prohibition of Publication Identifying Victims of Certain Sexual Offences’ and reads as follows:
578A Prohibition of Publication Identifying Victims of Certain Sexual Offences
(1) In this section:
“complainant” has the same meaning as in Division 1 of Part 5 of Chapter 6 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986.
“matter” includes a picture.
“prescribed sexual offence” has the same meaning as in the Criminal Procedure Act 1986.
(a) broadcast by radio or television, or
(b) disseminate by any other electronic means such as the internet.
(2) A person shall not publish any matter which identifies the complainant in prescribed sexual offence proceedings or any matter which is likely to lead to the identification of the complainant.
Penalty: In the case of an individual–50 penalty units or imprisonment for 6 months, or both; in the case of a corporation–500 penalty units.
(3) This section applies even though the prescribed sexual offence proceedings have been finally disposed of.
(4) This section does not apply to:
(a) a publication authorised by the Judge or Justice presiding in the proceedings concerned,
(b) a publication made with the consent of the complainant (being a complainant who is of or over the age of 14 years at the time of publication),
(c) a publication authorised by the court concerned under section 15D of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 in respect of a complainant who is under the age of 16 years at the time of publication,
(d) an official law report of the prescribed sexual offence proceedings or any official publication in the course of, and for the purposes of, those proceedings,
(e) the supply of transcripts of the prescribed sexual offence proceedings to persons with a genuine interest in those proceedings or for genuine research purposes, or
(f) a publication made after the complainant’s death.
(5) A Judge or Justice shall not authorise a publication under subsection (4) (a) unless the Judge or Justice:
(a) has sought and considered any views of the complainant, and
(b) is satisfied that the publication is in the public interest.
(6) The prohibition contained in this section applies in addition to any other prohibition or restriction imposed by law on the publication of any matter relating to prescribed sexual offence proceedings.
(7) Proceedings for an offence against this section shall be dealt with summarily before:
(a) the Local Court, or
(b) the Supreme Court in its summary jurisdiction.
(8) If proceedings for an offence against this Act are brought before the Local Court, the maximum penalty that the Local Court may impose on a corporation is 50 penalty units.
(9) Proceedings for an offence against this section that are brought before the Local Court must be commenced within 2 years of the date of the alleged offence.
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