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Identifying Complainants in Sexual Offences

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:

  1. You published a matter, and
  2. 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:

  1. All forms of sexual assault
  2. A range of sexual offences against children under the age of 16, and
  3. 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:

  1. Is authorised by the judge in the proceedings concerned
  2. Is authorised under section 15D of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 which requires a court to consider various matters before approving publication
  3. Is made with the consent of a complainant over the age of 14
  4. Is an official law report or official publication in the course of, and for the purposes of, the proceedings concerned
  5. 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
  6. Is made after the complainant’s death

The offence is additional to any other prohibitions in the law.

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