Being charged with a child abuse material offence can be distressing for you and your loved ones.
But you can take comfort in knowing that our experienced defence team will fight for you every step of the way.
Our lawyers have decades of specialised experienced in child abuse material and child pornography cases.
If you have a valid legal defence or the case against has problems, we will push to have the charges ‘dropped’ at an early date to save you from the stress and expense of lengthy criminal proceedings.
If your case proceeds, our top lawyers will fight to prove your innocence in court.
If you wish to plead ‘guilty’, we will ensure that you are in the best possible position at your ‘sentencing hearing’ to give you the highest chance of avoiding a prison sentence.
Before you can be found guilty of a ‘child abuse material’ charge, the prosecution has that the material is covered by the legislation.
Child abuse material is defined as any offensive material which depicts or describes either
The prosecution must also prove that you produced, disseminated or possessed child abuse material.
If you feel that the prosecution will not be able to prove one of the above circumstances, you can enter a plea of ‘not guilty’ and fight the charges in court.
Alternatively, you might have a good reason or excuse to justify your actions – in which case you can enter a plea of ‘not guilty’ and raise a defence in court.
There are several defences that you can use which, if accepted, can result in the charges being dismissed.
The possession, dissemination or production of child abuse material can be dealt with in the Local Court or in a higher court, such as the District or Supreme Courts.
Where your matter is dealt with in the Local Court, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment.
Where your matter is dealt with in a higher court, the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment.
However, remember that these are maximum penalties only, and the type of penalty that you will receive will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. In many cases, you may be able to avoid gaol altogether.
The types of penalties that may apply include:
Offences relating to child abuse material are often complex and difficult to understand.
We have compiled some information below to help you understand what the charges involve and how they could affect your future.
As stated above, ‘child abuse material’ refers to any offensive material which depicts or describes either:
It’s important to remember that under this section a child also refers to persons who ‘appear to be or are implied to be’ children.
This means that in cases where the subject of the material is actually over the age of 18, but they look like a child, or are presented to be a child, the material might still be classified as ‘child abuse material.’
In assessing how serious the offence is (and determining the appropriate penalty for the offence), the court can consider things like:
In determining whether or not something is ‘child abuse material,’ the court will consider generally accepted moral standards, as well as any artistic, educational or journalistic merit of the material.
The court will also consider whether the material has a scientific, medical or legal purpose.
There are several defences that you can use which, if accepted, can result in the charges being dismissed:
Often, other people, such as friends, family or work colleagues, may have access to your personal computer. In some cases, these persons may accidentally or intentionally download incriminating data without your knowledge or permission.
Where you have been charged with dissemination or possession of child abuse material and you were unaware that you had the material, you may raise the defence of ‘lack of knowledge’ to prove that you were genuinely unaware of the material. You may also raise this defence where you realise that someone has downloaded child abuse material onto your computer, but you take immediate steps to get rid of it, such as deleting the files.
Sometimes, it is necessary to produce material depicting children for scientific, medical or educative purposes. In these cases, you may be able to raise the defence of ‘approved research,’ even where the material would otherwise be classified as child abuse material.
However, to effectively raise the defence of approved research, you must have obtained written permission from the Attorney-General to conduct the research. You must be able to present evidence of this permission in court should you wish to raise this defence.
If you are a police officer, you may be required to examine and evaluate child abuse material to assist in a criminal investigation.
In cases where you are acting exclusively in your duty as a police officer in possessing or disseminating child abuse material, you may raise this defence in court.
However, it must be shown that your conduct was reasonable given the circumstances – for example, it would be unreasonable for you to download the material onto a personal computer for personal viewing purposes, or to disseminate the material to the general public.
The defence of ‘public benefit’ is similar to that of law enforcement. In some cases, you may argue that the material was possessed or disseminated solely for the ‘benefit of the public.’
The law says that conduct will be for ‘public benefit’ where it was necessary to assist in enforcing the law, or where it was necessary to investigate or monitor a breach of the law, or to assist in the administration of justice. An example is where police ‘bait’ an offender by providing them with child abuse material in order to assist investigations.
Whether or not your actions were for the public benefit will be a matter for the court to decide. Your motives or intentions will not be relevant when assessing whether your actions were for the ‘public benefit.’
The law requires all films, books and other explicit material to be classified or rated by government agencies.
In cases where the material in question was, or has subsequently been classified, you will be able to raise a defence to avoid a conviction.
According to official sentencing statistics, the penalties that were imposed in cases of possess, produce or disseminate child abuse material were:
In determining the appropriate penalty, the court can consider things like:
Remember, you can greatly increase your chances of getting a favourable outcome by speaking to a specialised assault lawyer with the knowledge and experience to fight for you in court.
Sydney Criminal Lawyers® are a team of specialist defence lawyers with experience in fighting aggravated sexual assault cases.
We know how important your liberty is and we will fight to ensure that you get the best possible outcome.
Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with.
Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:
Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.
We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.
For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.
If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.