Using a carriage service to prepare or plan sexual activity with a person under the age of 16 is an offence under section 474.25C of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
‘Sexual activity’ includes a broad range of conduct of a sexual nature, including sexual intercourse, sexual touching and masturbation.
A ‘carriage service’ is:
‘a service for carrying communications by means of guided and/or unguided electromagnetic energy’, which includes telephone calls, text messages and internet transmissions such as emails and social media messaging.
When determining your belief about the other person’s age at a particular time, the fact-finder (whether judge-alone or jury) may treat as admissible evidence:
The age requirement of being under 16 may be satisfied where the other person was above that age, but represented himself or herself as below that age.
You are not guilty of the offence if you establish to the court ‘on the balance of probabilities’ that:
An example of the offence is misrepresenting your age online as part of a plan to cause harm to a person under the age of 16 years.
Duress is a defence to the charge.
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