Child Grooming Offences Lawyers - Manchester
If you are facing allegations of grooming a child, we know that you will be extremely concerned. Grooming offences are very serious. Therefore, if you find yourself under investigation it is vital that you seek urgent, expert legal advice. The consequences can be severe and not just legally – the effects on your life, reputation and career can be far reaching and damaging.
Clifford Johnston & Co have an experienced team of defence specialists with over 35 years of experience in this area of the law. We understand the anxiety that you will be experiencing.
We will safeguard your legal rights and ensure that you are represented by a very experienced child sex offence solicitor.
What are child grooming offences?
When internet chat rooms came into use in or around the late 1990’s, the term “grooming” was used to describe the actions of adults who used online communication to talk to children to commit abuse. Whilst grooming mainly takes place online or over the telephone, this is not exclusively the case.
If an adult forms a relationship or gains the trust of a child (under the age of 16) to manipulate, abuse or exploit them, that constitutes child grooming. The exploitation may be for sexual reasons, or relate to the involvement of the child in illegal activities.
If you engage in behaviour that might be construed as sexual grooming, you may face criminal charges. Texting, emailing or any kind of message exchange with a child under the age of 16 might be considered grooming. It does not matter if the messages are non-sexual.
If an adult arranges to meet up with a child with the intention of engaging in a sexual act of any kind and/or engages in a sexual act with them, in addition to a grooming offence, they may also face further charges including sexual activity with a child and child rape.
Most child sex offences are covered by the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
What are the penalties for child grooming offences?
Although lengthy sentences of imprisonment are often imposed for these type of offences, we have an impressive track record of acquittals resulting in our clients walking free from Court without a stain on their character and with their reputation in tack. For clients who have pleaded guilty or have been convicted of these offences, we have persuaded the court not to impose an immediate sentence of imprisonment.
The sentence imposed on a person convicted of grooming a child will depend on the exact nature of the charge(s) and the offence committed. There are many other factors which a sentencing Court will consider when determining an appropriate sentence, such as:
- the length of time that communication with the child lasted;
- the disparity in age between the child and accused at the time of the alleged offence;
- the number of people involved;
- the level of planning and sophistication;
- whether the defendant used an alias, or misrepresented their true age and/or identity;
- the use of substances such as drugs and/or alcohol;
- abduction, coercion and intimidation;
- the level of harm and/or fear caused to the child, either mentally or physically;
- whether the defendant was in a position of trust.
Section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (SOA) deals with the offence of meeting a child following sexual grooming. The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.
It is very important to note that even if “no substantive sexual offence” takes place, for example if an accused person is communicating with a police decoy, the court will take into account the intentions of the accused person as opposed to what actually took place.
The following offences are associated with grooming:
Section 8 SOA - Causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity – maximum sentence 14 years’ imprisonment.
Section 10 SOA - Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity – maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment.
Section 12 SOA - Causing a child to watch a sexual act – maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.
Section 15 SOA - Meeting a child following sexual grooming – maximum sentence 10 years’ imprisonment.
Section 15A - Sexual communication with a child – maximum sentence of 2 years’ imprisonment.
What will happen if I am convicted of a child sex offence?
In addition to a sentence of imprisonment, other ancillary orders can be applied:
- Sexual Harm Prevention Order: this can be imposed on anyone who has been cautioned and/or convicted of a sexual offence.
- Sexual Risk Orders: These can be applied to any individual where it is believed that they have done an act of a sexual nature as a result of which there is reasonable cause to believe that they pose a risk of harm to the public in the UK or children or vulnerable adults abroad.
- Sexual Offences Notification Requirements: These requirements place certain obligations on individuals such as notifying the police of their address, change or address, bank details and so on.
Any breaches of the above order can result in a sentence of imprisonment of up to 5 years.
If you are under investigation for a child grooming offence, it’s crucial that you seek expert legal advice as soon as possible.
I've been accused of child grooming - what will happen now?
If you, or someone that you know face allegations of grooming a child for sex, then finding the right legal representation as early as possible is essential. You need to ensure that your legal rights are protected, and that you do not inadvertently say or do anything that will make the situation worse.
You may not be aware that you are being investigated until the police arrive to search your home. This may be in response to an undercover investigation carried out by the police and/or following a complaint made by a parent, a teacher or a social worker. If your home is searched, the police will be looking for evidence to support a case against you. The police will most likely seize any electronic devices in your home such as your computer, phone or tablet for analysis and interrogation.
The police may invite you to attend an interview voluntarily or you may be arrested and taken to the police station for interview. In either case, it is strongly recommended that you take legal advice before you say anything, and that you have a solicitor present during the police interview.
Following your police interview, one of four things will happen:
- You may be released and told that the police intend to take no further action against you.
- You may be bailed to return to the police station at a later date whilst the police complete their investigations;
- You may be released under investigation which means that the police will let you know the outcome of their investigation in due course;
- You may be charged with an offence.
If you are charged with a child grooming offence, depending on the severity of the charge, you will either be released on bail to attend Court at a future date or remanded into custody until the next available Court can hear your case. Your solicitor will be able to prepare a bail application on your behalf and will advise you as to the next steps.
If you are released by the police but not yet charged with any offences, it is important to bear in mind that until the investigation is concluded, it is possible that you may be rearrested if further evidence comes to light. This may be the case even if the police have told you that they intend to take no further action. We will liaise with the police on your behalf and will keep you updated whilst the investigation is ongoing.
What defences are available for grooming offences?
If you have been charged with a child grooming offence, the defence options available to you will depend on the circumstances.
If you know that the allegations are untrue and that you have not committed an offence, we will ensure that everything that can be done, is done, to protect your name and your liberty. We will meticulously examine all the evidence and identify any issues or flaws in the evidence against you.
If you accept that you have committed an offence and choose to plead guilty, we will advise you in respect of mitigating factors which might reduce the severity of the sentence that you receive.
Whatever your situation, it is very important that you instruct a solicitor with the experience and knowledge required to defend you against child grooming allegations.
Why choose Clifford Johnston & Co?
With our experience, legal knowledge and personal support, Clifford Johnston & Co are well equipped to support you in relation to allegations of grooming a child. We will offer you clear, robust and strategic advice and we will represent you through every stage of the process.
We will do our best to prevent your case from reaching court. Where this is not possible, we will consider all the evidence, build a strong defence case and do everything that we can to ensure the best possible outcome for you.
Whatever the circumstances, our experienced defence team will work tirelessly on your behalf and handle your case with discretion and sensitivity.
Specialist Solicitors In Child Grooming Offences
Clifford Johnston & Co has a team of experienced sexual offence defence lawyers.
We are proud to offer expert legal services nationally which is affordable and cost-effective.
By choosing to work with us you will have an exceptional team fighting your corner.
We represent clients throughout Stockport, Cheshire and Greater Manchester but also across the United Kingdom. We can support your needs wherever you are based in England and Wales.
Talk to Clifford Johnston & Co. today.