Trafficking and Production of the Child Abuse Material

It was reported in the Saturday Age (20th June 2020) that “the trafficking and production of child abuse material has exploded during the Coronavirus lockdown in Victoria“. Police have concerns that this type of offending is reliant on online activity, which has significantly increased while Victorians have been forced to isolate in their homes.

Victoria has a Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (JACET) assigned to investigating these matters. JACET is a state-federal taskforce. This is because child exploitation is policed by both State and Commonwealth agencies, making it a particularly complex area of law. High quality legal advice, such as that provided by Leanne Warren and Associates, is vital at an early stage.  

Any charge relating to child abuse material (previously known as child pornography) or child abuse, in general, is extremely serious, given the significant penalties that can be imposed, and the stigma that can attach to persons facing such charges.

Possessing, accessing, producing and distributing child abuse material carries a maximum penalty of Level 5 imprisonment (10 years). Any of these types of offences would normally attract an immediate term of imprisonment. However, each case depends on its own circumstances and a term of imprisonment is not necessarily appropriate, depending on the presence of mitigating factors.

The lawyers at Leanne Warren and Associates have many years of experience in advising and representing persons charged with these types of offences, and assisting in identifying whether any defence exists to the charge/s. Further, we can assist in identifying mitigating circumstances.

Defences may include that the accused is a similar age to those depicted in the images; the material has artistic merit or public benefit; or the accused is married to the child. Further, the prosecution must prove that the accused knew that the material was, or probably was, child abuse material.

These are not the only defences and it is important to obtain quality legal advice to ascertain what is applicable in different circumstances. 

As well as considering the imposition of a jail sentence, the Court must also consider any Application by the Prosecution for inclusion on the Sex Offender Register. Such registration can have significant ramifications including barriers to travel and employment, and onerous reporting conditions. Leanne Warren and her staff are experts at interpretation of the relevant legislation and can also provide advice in relation to Registration.  

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