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As soon as you are aware of the allegations, even if the police have not yet contacted you, you should speak to a specialist criminal defence lawyer for support. Your lawyer will advise on what to do with any communications you have had with the accuser, as these could hold important evidence for your defence.
At no point should you contact the accuser or anyone else connected to them or attempt to investigate the allegations yourself.
If you are arrested, which often happens without warning in sexual offence cases, you must speak to your solicitor before being interviewed. One of our lawyers will always attend at an interview with you so you are not on your own.
The crime of rape is set out in the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 and recognises that both men and women can be raped. It is a very serious crime that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
One of the critical issues in rape cases, and in many other sexual offence trials, is consent. Rape occurs if one party does not consent to the conduct and the accused had no reasonable belief that the other party consented. Cases involving alcohol or other substances that may impair one party’s ability to provide consent are particularly complex.
Our lawyers have an exceptional understanding of the case law surrounding consent, and the subtle nuances that can make all the difference to the outcome of your case.
Domestic Sexual Violence
In Scotland, domestic assault is defined as ‘any form of physical, sexual or mental and emotional abuse which might amount to criminal conduct and which takes place within the context of a relationship.’ This is also a prosecuting priority for Police Scotland and accusations of domestic sexual violence are taken very seriously.
This list is not exhaustive, and if you have been charged with any offence of a sexual nature, Westcourts can help you. We understand the importance of protecting your legal rights, reputation and anonymity throughout this difficult time. We are also sensitive to your own life experiences and appreciate there may be an underlying and delicate history. We offer a free initial, confidential discussion to give you an understanding of your defence options and how best to proceed.
Sexual assault occurs if a person intentionally or recklessly touches another person in a sexual way without their consent. Touching includes all physical contact. In serious cases, the maximum penalty for sexual assault is a life sentence.
Child sex abuse
Investigating sexual offences against children is one of Police Scotland’s highest priorities. The range of crimes includes physical sexual abuse of a child, as well as internet offences, indecent communications, indecent images and child pornography offences.
All sexual offences involving children are treated very seriously and can have grave consequences for those found guilty.
An indecent communications offence occurs if a person deliberately sends a sexual communication to another person without their consent and with no reasonable belief that they were consenting.
The crime will only have been committed if the communication was made for the sexual gratification of the accused, or if the intention was to humiliate, alarm or distress the person the communication was directed at.
On conviction, the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment.
Indecent communications with a child
To send or direct, by any means, a sexual written or verbal communication to a child under 13 years of age, carries a maximum custodial sentence of 10 years, a fine or both.
It is also an offence to communicate indecently with children aged 13 to 15 years of age, with the upper prison sentence being five years.
Historical sexual offences
Historic sexual crimes involve incidents that are alleged to have happened many years ago. One of the fundamental principles of Scots law is that the law will not be applied retrospectively, meaning you can only be charged and tried under the law that was in place at the time of the alleged offence.
Defending these cases is complicated and often requires challenging historical evidence and witness accounts on reliability and credibility grounds. They require a knowledge of the previous and current legislation, scrutiny of evidence and expert court representation.
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