The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) states sexual offences as criminal offences. These offences include; sexual assault, indecent assault, indecent acts, child sexual assault, and aggravated sexual assault. Committing these acts or even an attempt at committing them counts as a sexual offence.
In 1981, a few modifications were made in this act, which added ‘rape’ to the ‘sexual assault’ category. Moreover, the act was made gender neutral to remove the bias. Hence, now, both male and female can be victims and offenders. Below discussed are the definitions of these offences with the legal actions taken against them.
1. Sexual Assault
Sexual assault refers to having sexual intercourse with another person without their consent. The act includes penetration of the genitalia into any part of the body of another person, oral sex, as well as continuation of the act after the consent has been withdrawn.
Consent is a voluntary permission given by the other person in a conscious state about the exact act that can be performed. It cannot be attained by fear, threats, force, fault, fraud, or in an unstable mental state.
The penalty for the offender is imprisonment for 14 years by section 61L and all acts have equal consequences.
2. Aggravated Sexual Assault
It includes sexual assault with bodily harm. Threatening an individual about such harm is also considered as an offence. The conditions of aggravation include bodily harming the victim or threatening to harm them with a weapon.
The characteristics of the victim include being below the age of 16 or being intellectually or physically disabled, and the offender being their authority figure. Performing such acts in the company of other people is known as aggravated sexual offence in company and has different legal repercussions.
For aggravated sexual assault, prison sentence for 20 years is the maximum punishment (section 61J), whereas aggravated sexual assault in company will result in a lifetime in jail according to section 61JA.
3. Acts of Indecency
Act of indecency don’t involve inappropriate touching of the private parts of another person without their consent, but it does involve performing sexual acts or exposure of the genitals in a public place. Provoking another person towards an act of indecency is also a part of this offence.
The legal punishment for such offences is 18 months of imprisonment if the person’s age is over 16 and 24 months if they are under 16 years of age (section 61N). In a situation with aggravation, the jail sentence is dependent on the victim’s age and can range from 3 – 7 years. (61O)
4. Indecent Assault
Assaulting an individual by inappropriate touching of private parts and involving the act of indecency, which includes sexual implication, is a part of this assault.
Five years of imprisonment is the utmost punishment for such offences.
For child sexual assaults, there have been new additions to the law, as the use of the internet has made it easier for sexual offenders to contact children and cyber crimes are increasing day by day. There are also many sexual offences, which might not fall under the above categories, as these assaults don’t have any specific regulations. Such acts have separate legal rules, and they are judged accordingly.