What is Indecent Assault? | Punishments and Defences

by | Nov 12 2021 | Criminal Defence

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By Alex Ashcroft
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Indecent assault is a severe crime in the UK, and an allegation for this crime can have catastrophic consequences for someone suspected or charged. Therefore, we have explained everything you need to know about the offence, the associated sentences and potential defences below.

Man who has been charged with indecent assault - LGBT Lawyers

What is indecent assault? 

Put simply, indecent assault is unwanted sexual contact that does not extend to sexual assault or rape. Despite there being no specific definition as to what constitutes indecency, the law may take the following into account: 

  • The nature of the contact between the perpetrator and the victim
  • The body part the person has touched
  • How the situation has arisen in which the indecent assault took place
  • The words exchanged between the perpetrator and victim during the assault (threats or sexual innuendo). 

It’s important to note that the victim must suffer some form of assault, whether through physical contact or spoken threats. Furthermore, the assault must involve a sexual nature to which the victim did not consent. 

How does aggravated indecent assault differ from indecent assault? 

An aggravated indecent assault means that there were aggravating factors involved in the attack, which essentially make the offence worse in the eyes of the law.

The following points can elevate the crime of indecent assault to aggravated indecent assault: 

  • The assault was incestuous. 
  • A rape drug was involved in the assault to incapacitate the victim. 
  • The perpetrator had racial or homophobic motivation behind the attack.
  • The victim involved in the assault was below the age of 13.
  • An alleged offender broke into premises intending to commit the offence. 

If the police have accused you of this charge, we can help. Call today on 020 3795 9020.

What counts as indecent assault? 

What separates sexual gestures and behaviours from indecent assault is consent. Consent is one of the most important determining factors that the court use to determine if a person is guilty of this charge. 

Consent refers to the following factors: 

  • The victim was coherent and was capable of granting their consent. For example, they were not too intoxicated by alcohol or drugs and were awake and capable of making an informed decision.
  • There was ongoing permission at every stage of the sexual encounter. For example, at no point did the person express they did not want to engage any further. 
  • The person agreed to engage in the act and was happy with their decision. Furthermore, they were enthusiastic and gave verbal consent. 

It’s important to note that consent is not limited to just the points above. The court will assess the matter on an individual basis to assess the circumstances that led to the assault taking place. 

If someone has accused you of indecent assault, you should seek legal advice right away. A criminal defence lawyer can prevent you from incriminating yourself whilst under investigation. 

Are you looking for a lawyer to help with a legal matter? If so, Just give us a quick call on 020 3795 9020.

What is an example of indecent assault?

Indecent assault can vary depending on the actions and behaviour involved within the assault. The most common examples of indecent assault include: 

  • Kissing an individual without their consent. 
  • Touching a part of a person’s body sexually without consent.
  • Assaulting them by penetration using an object without their permission.
  • Interacting with an individual physically in a sexual manner without their permission.  

Indecent assault isn’t limited to the examples above and can include various other forms of sexual assault. Therefore, if you’re unsure whether you’re likely to face a charge, you should seek legal advice. 

What is the sentence for indecent assault? 

The maximum sentence for indecent assault is 10 years in prison, although if the assault was against a victim under 13, the penalty could increase to 14 years custody. 

Please note, the punishment for the offence varies depending on the type of assault and the circumstance surrounding the matter. Therefore, you should seek legal representation to understand where you stand in the eyes of the law and to find out your potential defence. 

What must the police prove to charge you? 

To convict a person of indecent assault, the court will typically evaluate the following:

  • Evidence of whether the individual gave consent for the sexual activity to occur
  • Evidence of when, where and how the assault took place
  • Communication between the perpetrator and victim (texts, emails, social media)
  • If there was anyone who witnessed the assault
  • CCTV footage

If you’re unsure whether you have committed this offence, you should seek legal assistance to ensure you know your legal standpoint. 

What should I do after being a victim of indecent assault? 

The first port of call after being indecently assaulted is to report the crime to the police. Furthermore, you should not wash or change the clothes you were wearing when the assault occurred, the police can forensically examine the clothes for evidence. 

Indecent assault is a severe crime and can have severe mental implications for victims. Therefore, if you have been subject to indecent assault, you should seek support from the following: 

How can a lawyer help? 

If you or a person you know is currently in police custody for an indecent assault or aggravated assault charge, it is essential to seek legal advice. 

A criminal defence lawyer who specialises in sexual crimes can provide you with expert and advice and court representation, giving you the best chance of success. 

Typically, a criminal defence lawyer will first require an initial consultation. A consultation will involve the lawyer informing you: 

  • The cost of defending the indecent assault matter
  • An overview of where you stand legally
  • The available legal options that you can pursue

It’s important to note that seeking a lawyer as early as possible can potentially prevent you from going to court. A lawyer may evaluate the evidence and potentially prove that it’s fake or acquired illegally. 

Are you looking for lawyer that can help you with a sexual assault matter?

If you have been involved in a legal matter, don’t worry. We can help you today.

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