Grooming for Sexual Conduct With a Child Under the Age of 16

It is an offence in the State of Victoria to groom a child under the age of 16 for sexual conduct. For example, if you communicate with a child aged under 16 via the internet with a view to meet them for the purposes of sex, you may be charged with a grooming for sexual conduct with a child under the age of 16 offence.

Elements

In order to establish a grooming for sexual conduct with a child under the age of 16 charge, the Prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You were aged 18 years or older at the time of the alleged offence;
  2. Communicated via words or conduct with a child (or someone who has care, supervision or authority over the child);
  3. The child was under the age of 16 at the time; and
  4. The intent of the communication was to facilitate the child engage in a sexual offence with you or the carer.[1]

It is irrelevant to the case whether the grooming of the child under 16 was successful or not. It is also immaterial that some or all of the alleged conduct occurred outside Victoria, as long as one of the parties was in Victoria at the time of the alleged grooming conduct.[2] Further, it is also immaterial that all parties may remain outside of Victoria, as long as it was intended that the sexual offence would occur in Victoria.[3]

Possible Penalties for Grooming for Sexual Conduct with a Child

If you are found guilty, the maximum penalty for a grooming for sexual activity with a child under 16 years of age offence is 10 years imprisonment.[4] You will also be registered on the Sex Offenders Register in Victoria. However, a judge will consider a variety of circumstances prior to making a sentencing determination.

Defences Available

If you have been charged with grooming for sexual conduct with a child under 16 years of age offence, you have several defences available. You can argue that you did not have an intention to commit a sexual offence with the child. You will also have a defence to the charge if you were under the age of 18 at the time the offence is alleged to have occurred.

If you have been charged with grooming for sexual conduct with a child under 16 offence, it is imperative that you contact an experienced legal practitioner so that the best defence can be identified for your case.

[1] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 49M(1).
[2] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 49M(4).
[3] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 49M(6).
[4] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 49M(2).

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