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Archive for the ‘Sexual Offences’ Category

Revenge Porn Client Avoids Prison Sentence

revenge pornRevenge Porn Client Avoids Prison Sentence

 

If you are being investigated for revenge porn, you will need to be pro-active and get our expert team on your side immediately.  Call us now on 0800 1933 999.

 

In Derby Magistrates’ Court today, Zack Wallis told our experienced criminal defence solicitor, Steve Williams, that he was relieved about the outcome of his case and that he had learnt from what was a very worrying experience.

 

Zack, who is just 19 years of age, had been charged with the relatively new offence of Revenge Pornography.

 

(In April 2015, the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 created a new criminal offence of Revenge Pornography, which made it an offence to disclose private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress.)

 

When Zack first contacted us for help, he explained that the Revenge Porn charge had been brought as a result of actions he admitted, which he and his peer group thought were socially acceptable.

 

However, Steve Williams quickly made Zack aware that although growth in the use of social media made it very easy to share private photographs with a wide audience, new legislation meant that people doing this with the intention of causing distress to the ‘victim’ would be prosecuted.

 

Zack was shocked when Steve told him that the penalties for this offence included a maximum two year custodial sentence.

 

As in all cases which Forrest Williams Legal Ltd agree to take on, we spent time listening to Zack’s account of what had happened prior to his being charged with the offence.

 

Zack told us that he had been in a one year relationship with the victim some years ago. The relationship had ended after Zack found out the victim had been seeing someone else behind his back.

 

Out of the blue, Zack said, he received a message from the victim via Facebook and they communicated online for a while before agreeing to meet up.

When they met up, they had sex. Zack admitted he filmed them having sex, and he also admitted then sending the film to his friends. He said this was common practice amongst his peer group.

 

All was going well until Zack called the victim and a male answered her mobile phone. Zack told us he was angry, as he remembered how the victim had two-timed him in the past.

 

Zack then sent the film to his friends and, following an angry exchange between him and the victim, sent a copy of the film to her too. She contacted the police to report what Zack had done.

 

Zack was told by the District Judge that his actions were being taken very seriously by the court, and that a custodial sentence was being considered.

 

The initial hearing, at which Zack pleaded guilty to the offence, was adjourned off to a later date so he could meet with Probation Services and a pre-sentence report be prepared with recommendations for the court.

 

When Zack attended court with Steve for the second time, he was informed that a restraining order had been made as well as an order for him to pay £1,000 in costs to the victim, for whom the District Judge said the offence had caused “significant distress”.  Zack was also ordered to pay court costs and a victim surcharge.

 

Zack was very relieved to have avoided the custodial sentence which, at the first hearing, the District Judge warned him was a likely outcome. The starting point, according to the magistrates’ sentencing guidelines, was 6 weeks’ custody.

 

However, the court took into account Steve’s assertive handling of the case and the mitigation put forward on Zack’s behalf – including his remorse, good character and lack of previous offences.

 

Zack told us he had taken stock of his past behaviour and taken on board the need for his behaviour to change, regardless of what his peers continued to believe was ‘the norm’ for young people. Some behaviour, he had learned, could have very serious consequences.

 

If you have been charged with Revenge Porn, or if you have any questions about this new offence, contact our office today on 01623 600645 for free, initial advice.

 

Revenge Porn Lawyers – What is Revenge Porn?

revenge porn lawyersRevenge Porn Lawyers are frequently asked, what exactly is revenge porn?  In this post, we explain the basics.  If you need revenge porn lawyers for an ongoing case, call our expert team now on 0800 1933 999.

 

What is ‘Revenge Porn’?

 

In April 2015, the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 created a new criminal offence of Revenge Pornography, which made it an offence to disclose private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress.

 

Prior to this, revenge porn offences had to be dealt with via existing copyright and harassment legislation, for example the Communications Act 2003, Malicious Communications Act 1988 or the Harassment Act 1997.

 

What is the extent of this offence?

 

In the 18 months following the implementation of the legislation, 206 prosecutions have been brought.

 

However, it is widely accepted that shame and humiliation deters victims from reporting the crime.

 

On the other hand, the accelerating use of social media creates more opportunities for perpetrators – i.e. through the use of revenge porn websites, as well as Facebook accounts and other platforms.

 

As the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, recently commented: ‘There is a growing trend of crimes committed on or through social media’.

 

The message to would-be perpetrators is that revenge porn offences are being taken very seriously, are now viewed by the criminal justice system as distinct from other offences and that those involved with law enforcement and prosecutions are becoming increasingly skilled in understanding the nature of the offence and bringing perpetrators to justice.

 

How could a perpetrator be punished for this offence?

 

If found guilty of a revenge porn offence, a perpetrator could be given a maximum 2 year custodial sentence and ordered to pay a fine and court costs.  Our team of revenge porn lawyers are experts in this field and can help you if you are being investigated for revenge porn offences.

 

What sentences have perpetrators received since the new legislation took effect?

 

21 year old Jason Asagba, one of the first people to be convicted under the new legislation, was given a six month custodial sentence (suspended for 18 months) and ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work within the community. Asagba was also given a restraining order and ordered to pay £345 in costs.

 

Asagba was convicted of posting, texting and emailing intimate photos without the woman’s consent with intent to cause her distress, after pleading guilty to Revenge Pornography.

 

His victim had been asleep when he had taken photos of her; no consent was given. Asagba sent the photos to the victim’s family via text and also sent the victim a photo via email.  In addition, Asagba hacked into the victim’s Facebook account and shared an image on her timeline.

 

In line with the legal definition of the offence of Revenge Pornography, Asagba had disclosed private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress. It was clear from the actions detailed above that Asagba had intended to cause the woman distress and embarrassment.  Sharing such photos in a public forum was vindictive and criminal.

 

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) guidance on Revenge Porn:

 

  • Revenge Porn is the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress. The images are sometimes accompanied by personal information about the subject, including their full name, address and links to their social media profiles.
  • The offence applies both online and offline and to images which are shared electronically or in a more traditional way so includes the uploading of images on the internet, sharing by text and e-mail, or showing someone a physical or electronic image.
  • The issue in cases of ‘revenge pornography’ will be whether the message or communication is grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false, not whether the image itself is indecent or obscene.
  • Section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 deals with the sending of electronic communications which are indecent, grossly offensive, threatening or false, provided there is an intention to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient.
  • Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to send or cause to be sent through a ‘public electronic communications network’ a message that is ‘grossly offensive’ or of an ‘indecent, obscene or menacing character’.
  • Where there is more than one incident, or the incident forms part of a course of conduct directed towards an individual, a charge of harassment should be considered.
  • Where the images may have been taken when the victim was under 18, prosecutors will consider offences under the Protection of Children Act 1978.
  • In the most serious cases, where intimate images are used to coerce victims into further sexual activity, other offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 will be considered.

If you have been charged with Revenge Pornography, and need revenge porn lawyers, contact our office on 01623 600645 for free initial advice.

 

Rape of a Child Solicitors

rape of a child solicitorsRape of a Child Solicitors

 

We were delighted to assist a family recently during a very traumatic case.

 

We were instructed by Mrs H, mother of a 14 year old vulnerable child with special needs.  She contacted us absolutely mortified following the police asking her son to attend the police station for interview in relation to an allegation of rape of a child.  They needed rape of a child solicitors, and they came to the right place.

 

The alleged victim was known to Mrs H and her family, and whole her son denied the allegation completely, the allegation had huge consequences for the family.  The family of the alleged victim cut off all contact with Mrs H and her family, despite them being long-term, close friends. 

 

And, perhaps the worst part, it was clear that Mrs H’s estranged husband, the client’s father, did not believe his son was innocent.

 

As defence lawyers, we have a privileged and unique position.  We often see families experiencing the worst things they can imagine, and we are given access to people at their most vulnerable time and an open licence to ask personal, intimate questions.

 

It was clear that this was a family still reeling from the client’s diagnosis of complex special needs, and the client’s father in particular was unsure of how to deal with his son.

 

This led to a difficult, but necessary, conversation between caseworker Katie Forrest and the client’s father.

 

“I reminded him that his son was presumed innocent until proven guilty and that his son would need his support at this time more than ever.” Katie says.

 

We were instructed to fully investigate the allegation and to take a pro-active approach, with the aim of attempting to resolve the matter without any formal charges being laid against our client.

 

We took a detailed statement from the client himself, as well as his mum, dad and sister, who were all present on the day in question.

 

We organised expert representation for our client at several police interviews, together with protecting his rights and requirements as a vulnerable child himself.

 

We were confident that the matter was proceeding well, and then we were notified that a second similar allegation – of rape of a child – had been made against our client.

 

Our client, and his family, were devastated, and clearly the prospects were not looking good at this point.

 

We, however, renewed our focus on the case and continued in depth liaisons with the police officer.  By working collaboratively and pro-actively, we were able to present our case to a prosecutor before our client was charged with any offence, and after reviewing this, the decision was made that our client would not be prosecuted in relation to either allegation.

 

We were all absolutely delighted.

 

As specialist rape of a child solicitors, we are the experts you need to defend any allegations of rape of a child.  We do NOT represent anyone who accepts they are guilty of rape of a child.

 

If you are falsely accused of rape of a child, call our expert team now on 0800 1933 999.

 

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