Accessing Child Abuse Material Charges, Melbourne Victoria
Accessing child abuse material is a serious offence, if you are facing charges for accessing child abuse material, this crime carries a maximum custodial sentence of a decade in custody. This is therefore a matter with which you want the best advice and representation available.
Have you been charged with Accessing Child Abuse Material?
Some questions to discuss with your lawyer are: did you knowingly access child abuse material? Did you access child abuse material that you thought was something else?
It is important to realise that with this charge that even if you honestly did not believe that the material you allegedly accessed was not child abuse material that your opinion is not a defence, if a jury decides you probably knew the nature of the material then that is all that is required to satisfy the charges.
There are defences available depending on the unique circumstances of your case. There are also exceptions to the charges that, if they are relevant, will be addressed by your lawyer.
Exceptions arise in some specific circumstances. Did you access child abuse material in the course of your work? Depending on the nature of your work, you may have an exception to the charge in this circumstance. Perhaps the material you allegedly possessed was not material that was classed as ’RC’, or ‘Restricted Content’. The nature of the material should be discussed with your lawyer.
Was the image taken of you, yourself, as a child alone or with someone else? Does the image depict a criminal act in which you were the victim of another person?
Answers to these questions could well mean that you qualify for an exception to this charge.
There are several defences to this charge, and again the defences available based on particular circumstances.
If the material is to be used for an artistic purpose or for public benefit, such as educational slides, then this can constitute a defence. Perhaps there are multiple children depicted in the material and you are one of them. How old are you at the time of the picture?
Perhaps a child depicted is 16 or 17 years old and you are not more than two years older and have the consent of the child depicted. It is important to know in this situation whether the image was distributed to others.
Defences include situations where the child depicted is you legal spouse or domestic partner, or you had an honest and reasonable belief that they are your legal spouse or domestic partner.
The prosecution must prove:
- The defendant intentionally accessed material; and
- The material was child abuse material; and
- The defendant knew the material was or probably was child abuse material.
The Maximum Penalty
Level 5 imprisonment being a maximum of 10 years.
Where Will My Case Be Heard?
Accessing child abuse material can only be heard in the County Court or Supreme Court of Victoria.
Questions to Consider:
Do you have a defence in relation to the available defences and exceptions mentioned d above? Did you access child abuse material?
If you are planning to plead guilty, what can you do to try to minimize your sentence?
What to do Next?
With such a complex charge such as this, which could have a great many circumstances from which the charge has arisen, it is important to have an expert criminal defence lawyer so that you know you can rely on the advice you are given.
If you have been charged with possession of child abuse material, you should call us straight away. 03 8644 7320. There is too much at stake to try to sort it out on your own. Get a legal expert involved.
Section 51H Accessing child abuse material
(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—
(a) A intentionally accesses material; and
(b) the material is child abuse material; and
(c) A knows that the material is, or probably is, child abuse material.
(2) A person who commits an offence against subsection (1) is liable to level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum).
(3) For the purposes of subsection (1), the ways in which A accesses material may include—
(a) viewing material; or
(b) displaying material by an electronic medium or any other output of the material by an electronic medium.
1 Exceptions apply to this offence—see sections 51J, 51K and 51M.
2 Defences apply to this offence—see sections 51L, 51N, 51O, 51P, 51Q and 51R.
3 A mistaken but honest and reasonable belief that reasonable persons would not regard the child abuse material as offensive is not a defence to this offence—see section 51U.