Sentencing for sexual offences is dealt with under sections 1 and 9 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. s1 deals with the office of rape or multiple rapes and s9 deals with sexual activity.

The sentencing range for one offence of rape by a single offender involving a child under 13 years of age is 8-13 years. Where the rape involves abduction or detention or the offender is aware they suffer from an STI etc, the sentencing range is 11-17 years. Where the rape occurs repeatedly against the same victim over a course of time or involves multiple victims the sentencing range is 13 – 19 years custody. Under s9 the maximum sentence a Court can impose is 14 years.

The sentences for public protection must be considered in all cases. They are designed to ensure that sexual offenders are not released into the community if they present a significant risk of serious harm.

Factors taken into account are the culpability of the offender, the nature of the sexual activity which gives a guide of the harm caused to the victim, the age and degree of vulnerability of the victim (the younger the child, the more vulnerable he or she is likely to be), the age gap between the child and the offender, the youth and immaturity of the offender and, except where it is inherent in an offence, any breach of trust arising from a family relationship between the child and the offender, or from the offender’s professional or other responsibility for the child’s welfare, will make an offence more serious.

Other aggravating factors are taken into account such as whether the offender ejaculated or caused victim to ejaculate, whether threats were made to prevent the victim reporting the incident or incidents and whether the offender is aware that he or she is suffering from a sexually transmitted infection.

There are mitigating factors which will be taken into account as well such as in a case where there is a small disparity in age between the offender and the victim. The sentence for a s9 and s10 offence is likely to be less where the victim is under 16 rather than under 13.

s9 sets out different types of abuse and the starting points in terms of handing down custodial sentences so for example, where penile penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth or penetration of the vagina or anus with another body part or an object the starting point is 4 years custody but the range is 3 – 7 years in custody. If there has been contact between part of offender’s body (other than the genitalia) with part of the victim’s body (other than the genitalia) the starting point is a Community order or a non-custodial sentence such as a community order or a fine.


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