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Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

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What the law says

Section 215 of the Criminal Code Queensland states:

  1. Any person who has or attempts to have unlawful carnal knowledge with or of a child under the age of sixteen years is guilty of an indictable offence.
  2. If the child is of or above the age of twelve years, the offender is guilty of a crime, and liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.
  3. If the child is under the age of twelve years, the offender is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for life or, in the case of an attempt to have unlawful carnal knowledge, to imprisonment for fourteen years.
  4. If the child is not a lineal descendant of the offender but the offender is the child's guardian or, for the time being, has the child under the offender's care, the offender is guilty of a crime, and is liable for imprisonment for life or, in the case of an attempt to have unlawful carnal knowledge, to imprisonment for fourteen years.
  5. If the offence is alleged to have been committed in respect of a child of or above the age of twelve years, it is a defence to prove that the accused person believed, on reasonable grounds, that the child was of or above the age of sixteen years.
  6. In this section - 
    carnal knowledge does not include sodomy.

What the police must prove

In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. The accused had or attempted to have carnal knowledge of the complainant.
  2. The other person did not consent to the carnal knowledge.
  3. The accused knew the other person did not consent to the sexual intercourse.
  4. The complainant was under sixteen years of age.

It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence.

Maximum penalty

The Maximum penalty for the offence depends on the age of the child and the offender's relationship with the child and can vary from fourteen years to life imprisonment.

Which court will hear the matter

This matter is an indictable offence which may be dealt with in the Magistrates Court unless there is a circumstance of aggravation (Section215 (2) (3) (4) is dealt with in the District Court.

Possible defences

Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to

  1. Age of the victim.
  2. Identification i.e. not the accused.
  3. Actions did not amount to carnal knowledge.
  4. Actions were lawful.

Criminal Law Article written by Bill Potts (a Queensland criminal defence lawyer who is experienced in dealing with Unlawful Carnal Knowledge matters).

 

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