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Sexual Offences

More than any other area of criminal law, sexual offences have their own unique challenges. Being accused of a sexual offence can have a devastating impact on you, on your family relationships and on your work. The experience is life-changing.

Sexual offences focus where people are at their most vulnerable – their private lives. Over the years we’ve used our experience and expertise to help clients from many different walks of life navigate their way through the criminal justice system and come out the other side.

Independently recognised as one of the best solicitors dealing with sex offences

At Hodge Jones and Allen, Nigel Richardson, one of the senior partners in the firm and head of the award-winning criminal law department, leads our team of lawyers who specialise in sexual offences. Nigel is one of the most experienced lawyers in this field, an acknowledged expert and author of one of the main textbooks on the subject: Sexual Offences – A Practitioner’s Guide. Based in central London, he represents clients across the country and advises internationally.

Our team can call on a wealth of experience to help. We have defended clients accused of every different sexual offence in a huge range of circumstances. We provide excellent but straightforward advice in this complex area of law. What sets us apart is our ability to understand the crisis our client is facing whilst fighting tenaciously for their rights.

What is a sexual offence?

The introduction of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 brought the vast majority of sexual offences under one piece of legislation. Since then there has been a huge increase in the number of cases prosecuted that can be termed sexual offences.

Defending sexual offences is a specialist skill, very different from general criminal defence. Core issues are the disclosure of ‘unused material’, an examination of the police investigative process and the credibility of witnesses. It is crucial that the accused person presents themselves properly, both to police in interview and giving evidence in court, if it comes to that.

We are all aware that allegations dating back many years are currently being investigated and prosecuted. In these historic sexual offences, the passage of time does not prevent prosecution but it can make the allegations far more complex. We have dealt with many such offences in recent years and count ourselves experts in this niche area. We know how to look for flaws in the police investigative process or collusion between witnesses. We know the law not just as it stands now, but as it was when the allegation was said to have occurred. And we are very experienced in dealing with elderly people and their families who are facing these difficult situations.

At Hodge Jones and Allen, we use our legal knowledge and experience to advise and represent clients charged with a range of sexual offences including:

  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Historic sexual abuse allegations
  • Voyeurism and exposure
  • Child sex offences
  • Sex offences involving abuse of position of trust
  • Sexual offences within the family
  • Making, distributing or possessing indecent images or other online sexual offences
  • Sexual exploitation offences
  • Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPOs) Sexual Risk Orders (SROs) or the sex offenders register
  • Potential criminal liability for those operating in the sex industry
  • Obscenity in published material (see our sexual freedom page)

However, we don’t just treat our cases as legal problems. Being accused of a sexual offence will have implications for every area of your life. As part of a multi-disciplinary practice we can also provide expert advice on the effects on your employment, on your relationships (including access to children) and even on the possibility that the accusation might be a prelude to bringing a civil claim.

We can advise you on publicity and, for those clients who feel they do have a problem, we can refer you to the very best counsellors and therapists in this field.

What should I do when accused of a sexual offence?

You may be aware you’ve been accused of a sexual offence even before a criminal investigation has begun. Or, you might first hear about it when police contact you. The advice for both situations is the same. Speak to a criminal defence lawyer, experienced in the law of sexual offences. What you will need to consider depends on the circumstances of each case and those who are specialist in this area can give you an overview of what might happen and what issues you need to start thinking about.

Increasingly, allegations are made during family proceedings or through sexual harassment complaints at work. The police investigation might be a little slow to begin but you will need good advice to prepare for when it does.

Everyone has the right to legal advice, the police and CPS know this and you must never feel anxious about exercising your right. It certainly does not mean that you are guilty.

You may have already been spoken to by police and an investigation is ongoing or court proceedings may have begun. However, if you feel that you need further advice or require specialist help do not hesitate to contact us to see if we can help.

Defending sexual offences charges: How we can help.

Police Investigations

Representation at an early stage is often key as decisions made at the outset can have huge importance. We can help you by;

  • Getting you through any police interview – advising you on whether to answer questions and, if so, how best to get your point across;
  • Gathering evidence – many solicitors adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach. However, we may be able to track down witnesses, secure CCTV or phone footage or even ….;
  • Building up a dossier of reasons why you should not be charged and presenting it to the prosecution at the right time.

At this stage our aim is to do everything we can to prevent your case from going to court; if that is not possible, we want to have started to prepare your defence.

Court proceedings

Some cases will inevitably end up before the court. We examine the case in detail, look for the inconsistencies, challenge the prosecution evidence, help our clients to think strategically and prepare the case meticulously. We ensure our clients have the right legal team around them to fight their case.

Appeals

If someone has been convicted of a sexual offence and maintains their innocence, we can help. We have experience of examining convictions, looking for fresh evidence and advising whether there are grounds to show that the conviction is unsafe.

Advisory Work

As the foremost legal experts in sex offence law, we advise organisations and institutions as well as individuals. This can cover a range of issues from the possession or publication of risky or potentially indecent material, to the laws surrounding the sex industry or the employment of staff accused of sexual offences. We are a multi-discipline practice which means that we often work with our colleagues who have expertise in other fields of law.

If you’d like to contact Nigel or his team, we are always happy to take your call to discuss whether you’d like to work with us. You can send your details through our contact box or you can telephone 0800 437 0322.  If the situation is urgent, please call our 24 hour hotline on 0844 848 0222.

FAQs

What should I do if the police contact me?

Ask the police why they want to speak to you. Take a note of the name of the police officer who has contacted you and their contact details.

The Police know that if they are contacting you as a suspect of a criminal offence you have the right to obtain legal advice. As soon as you have obtained the basic information you should seek legal advice. Once instructed, we will liaise with the police on your behalf.

It’s very tempting to think you can simply explain your side of it to the police on the telephone but that is not the case. If you are a suspect you will have to be interviewed under police caution. The interview will be recorded and can form part of the evidence against you in any court case.

Even if you have nothing to hide, every interaction you have with the police when they are investigating your suspected involvement in a crime must be taken seriously and there is never any disadvantage in seeking legal advice. Solicitors are there to act in your best interest, to advise you and protect your rights.

Do I need a solicitor when the accusation is false?

Yes. You may know it is a false allegation but if the police are investigating it you should take it seriously. You may require advice on many different aspects of the criminal justice system and solicitors are there to help you show what you say is correct. They can help you collate evidence that supports you and to use the procedures in place to obtain information that can help you.

Isn’t it just my word against theirs?

Many cases involving sexual offences do come down to one person’s word against another. The CPS may prosecute cases where they have no independent or corroborative evidence.

Even when it is one person’s word against another, there is often other evidence which can be highly relevant, such as when an allegation is made, what has been said about it, to who was it said and what details were given. Evidence of consistency or inconsistency can be very important.

The key for the jury is the credibility of the prosecution case and whether they can be sure of what the prosecution alleges. In criminal proceedings, the burden of proving a defendant committed a crime lies with the prosecution and they have to prove it so that a jury is sure.

If a defendant maintains they are not guilty, there is often other evidence that can be obtained to try and show that their account is more credible. Witnesses as to facts in issue are key and when a defendant has never been in trouble with police their good character should not be overlooked as that can be relevant in court.

The police have seized my phone/computer. Can I get it back?

We are in a world where living without technology seems almost impossible and key practical considerations such as when can I have my phone or computer returned become the pressing issues. Police will often seize electronic equipment in order to try and uncover evidence and it can take time for them to be expertly examined.

If devices have been seized it’s important to liaise with the investigators to establish what is happening. Devices once examined should be returned. However, if the police need to keep them as evidence, they will not be returned until the investigation or proceedings have concluded. That said, if the information is required from them solicitors can liaise with the police to obtain anything needed.

How long will the process take?

How long the process takes will depend on the facts of your case. The only set time limits are how long a person can be on police bail during an investigation and how long they can be kept in custody awaiting trial.

Many people are not subject to police bail conditions during an investigation. Police are under a duty to conclude their investigations in a timely manner but there are no set time limits. The length of an investigation will depend on the seriousness of it, the extent of investigations the police need to undertake and the need to for the CPS provide the police with advice on whether to charge the suspect or not.

Once court proceedings have started, the facts of the case and the seriousness of it will determine the length. If a person pleads guilty then the court proceedings shouldn’t take too long. If a defendant pleads not guilty then it can take longer. If you speak to a solicitor, they will be in a position to obtain the necessary details and give you a far better idea of likely timescale.

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Phone:0800 437 0322
Fax:020 7388 2106
Address:Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors
180 North Gower Street
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NW1 2NB