Sexual Assault Charges On The Rise, But What Court Will Your Case Be Heard In?
In 2013 the Bureau of Crime Statistics Report found that Sexual Assaults had risen across New South Wales by over 130% since the 1990s.
The New South Wales Crimes Act, defines Sexual Assault as any person who has sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of the other person and who knows that the other person does not consent. The definition of sexual intercourse is wide and includes penetration of a number of parts of the body by the person or any object manipulated by the person.
In addition to sexual assault, the Crimes Act also contains a number of other sexual offences including indecent assault and acts of indecency.
Sexual Assault offences dealt with by the District Court
Proceedings for Sexual Assault offences have historically been dealt with by the District Court where the penalties that can be imposed include, imprisonment for ten years or more, depending on the circumstances of the offence and whether there are any aggravating circumstances.
The District Court is also guided by set Minimum Non-Parole Periods, for Sexual Assault offences. For instance, if a person is found guilty of a Sexual Assault in the District Court there is a Minimum Non-Parole Period of seven years.
Sexual Assault offences dealt with by the Local Court
However, it is possible to have some Sexual Assault offences dealt with by the Local Court where the maximum term of imprisonment is limited to two years. Having a Sexual Assault offence dealt with by the Local Court is possible on account of Chapter 5 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
Under this Chapter of the Criminal Procedure Act, certain indictable offences, meaning offences that would ordinarily be dealt with by the District Court, can be dealt with summarily by the Local Court. The Act contains a list of offences under the Crimes Act that are able to be dealt with by the Local Court, if no election is made by a prosecutor for these offences to be dealt with in a higher Court such as the District Court.
The list of offences that can be dealt with summarily by the Local Court includes, a number of Sexual Assault offences . In essence, if you have been charged with a Sexual Assault offence, having it heard in the Local Court minimises the maximum sentence that can be imposed from a Minimum Non-Parole Period of seven years, to a maximum of two years imprisonment.
What you need to do if you are charged with Sexual Assault
If you have been charged with a Sexual Assault offence, you need to think about the impact that being found guilty of the offence will have on your personal and professional life. A Sexual Assault conviction will also impact on your ability to travel overseas and visit certain countries.
To ensure that the impact of being charged with a Sexual Assault offence is minimised, you should seek the expert advice of an Accredited Criminal Law lawyer, who understands the way in which the Court system operates, when deciding to deal with an offence as a summary or indictable offence. Your criminal defence lawyer also needs the knowledge and experience in running defended criminal law hearings in the Local, District and Supreme Courts of New South Wales.
Our Accredited Criminal Lawyers at Nyman Gibson Miralis, have this experience. We are discreet and professional when advising clients who have been charged with a Sexual Assault offence.