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Using The Internet To Procure Sexual Abuse From A Child Under 16

What the law says

Sections 218A of the Criminal Code Queensland states:

  1. Any adult who uses electronic communication with intent to-
    • (a) procure a person under the age of 16 years, or a person the adult believes is under the age of 16 years, to engage in a sexual act, either in Queensland, or elsewhere; or
    • (b) expose, without reason, a person under the age of 16 years, or a person the adult believes is under the age of sixteen years, to any indecent matter, either in Queensland or elsewhere;
    is guilty of a crime.

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 is an adult i.e. namely a person of or above the age of 18 years;
  2. The accused used electronic communication, which means email, internet chat rooms, SMS messages, real time audio/video or other similar communication to procure a person who was under the age of sixteen years or a person the adult believed was under the age of sixteen years to engage in a sexual act.

It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence. Click here to learn more about identification evidence.

Maximum penalty

The maximum penalty for the offence of Using the Internet to procure sexual abuse from a child under 16 is 5 years imprisonment.  The maximum penalty for the offence is 10 years imprisonment if the complainant is under 12 years of age or the adult believes they are under 12 years of age.

Which court will hear the matter

This matter is indictable which means it is dealt with in the District Court.

Possible defences

Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to

  1. Identification i.e. not the accused
  2. The accused can prove on the balance of probabilities that he or she believed on reasonable grounds the person was at least 16 years of age (or 12, as the case may be)

N.B. It is not a defence that the person responding on the internet is in fact not a child. It is often the case that the person is in fact a covert Police Officer.

Criminal Law Article written by Bill Potts (a Queensland criminal defence lawyer who is experienced in Using the Internet to procure sexual abuse from a child under 16 matters)

 

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