Possession of Child Abuse Material Charges in Melbourne, Victoria
Possession of child abuse material is a very serious crime that carries a long maximum custodial sentence. You need to speak to an experienced lawyer immediately.
Have you been charged with possession of Child Abuse Material?
Some questions to discuss with your lawyer are: Did you knowingly possess child abuse material? Did you have access to child abuse material? What is the nature of the material in question?
An honest but mistaken belief that the material was not offensive is not a defence in this matter, but there are other defences available that depend on the unique circumstances of your case. There are also exeptions to the charges that, if they arise, can be dealt with your lawyer with the prosecutors and in court.
Exceptions arise in some specific circumstances. Perhaps your alleged possession of child abuse material was in relation to your work to do with the administration of law? Perhaps the material you allegedly possessed was not material that was classed as ’RC’, or ‘Restricted Content’. Who was in the image? Was the image taken of you, yourself, as a child? Was anyone else in the image? Does the image depict a criminal act in which you were the victim? Answers to these questions could well mean that you qualify for an exception to this charge.
There are many defences to this charge, and again the defences available are varied and based on particular circumstances.
If the material is material that has been collected for an artistic purpose or for public benefit, such as education about child abuse, then this is a defence that your lawyer can discuss with you. Perhaps the image features you as a child with another child or children. Perhaps the 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. These scenarios are important to discuss with your lawyer.
Defences include situations where the child is you legal spouse or domestic partner, or you have an honest and reasonable belief that they are your legal spouse or domestic partner.
Another defence occurs if you did not intentionally come into possession of child abuse material, and took steps to ccease possession of the material when you knew about it.
The prosecution must prove:
- The defendant knowingly possessed child abuse material.
The Maximum Penalty
Level 5 imprisonment being a maximum of 10 years.
Where Will My Case Be Heard?
Possession of child abuse material cases 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 above? Did you possess child abuse material?
If you are planning to plead guilty, what can you do to try to minimize your sentence?
What to do Next?
The most important thing for you to do first is to get hold of a lawyer. You want an experienced criminal defence lawyer who can help you sort out what if any exeptions and defences are relevant to your particular circumstances.
If you have been charged with possession of child abuse material, you should make an appointment to speak to one of our specialist criminal defence lawyers 03 8644 7320
CRIMES ACT 1958 – SECT 51G
Possession of child abuse material
(1) A person (A) commits an offence if A knowingly possesses 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), A possesses child abuse material that is electronic material if A controls access to the material whether or not A has physical possession of the electronic material.
(4) It is immaterial that the electronic material was outside Victoria, so long as A was in Victoria at the time at which some or all of the conduct constituting an offence against subsection (1) occurred.
(5) It is immaterial that A was outside Victoria at the time at which some or all of the conduct constituting an offence against subsection (1) occurred, so long as the electronic material was in Victoria.
1 A has an online storage account for electronic material accessible with a username and password. A has control of what is stored in the account and can move material around within the account or delete material from the account. A has an electronic folder in the account that A has titled ‘personal’ in which A puts some electronic child abuse material. A knowingly has possession of child abuse material.
2 In an online chat A is given a password for a joint email account that is shared with multiple users that A doesn’t know. A logs into the email account and views emails that contain child abuse material images. While logged in A has the ability to view, move or delete emails that contain child abuse material. A continues to access the email account to view images. A knowingly has possession of child abuse material.
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, 51R and 51T.
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.