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UK Sexual Offences Act 2003
mini me + poo
lovingboth
Many of you, dear readers, will remember the series of polls on the Sexual Offences Bill then going through its second reading in the House of Lords.

It finished the Parliamentary process last week, and is now the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Its provisions are expected to come into force in May 2004.

You can see my quick guide to most of it here (long!), with the actual Act here (longer!)

As well as changing some of the offences, they've extended the 'sex offenders register' and if you read nothing else, read this: do not accept even a caution for a sexual offence unless you have taken legal advice and are absolutely sure you would be put on trial if you declined and would be convicted.

Let's have another poll to see if they got it right :)

Poll #211202 Sexual Offences Act 2003

The Lords wanted someone accused of a sexual offence to be anonymous until charged, but the Commons rejected this and it's not in the Act. Were the Lords right?

Yes
9(90.0%)
No
1(10.0%)
Hmmm, see comment
0(0.0%)

Should it be ok to possess an idecent image of an imaginary child?

Yes
4(40.0%)
No
3(30.0%)
Hmmm, see comment
3(30.0%)

Should it be ok for adults to shag their aunt/uncle / adult neice/nephew?

Yes, and there's at least one I wish I could
1(11.1%)
Yes, though not me personally
7(77.8%)
No
0(0.0%)
Hmmm, see comment
1(11.1%)

Thanks to some lobbying by naturists, exposure (flashing) now needs you to /intend/ to cause offence, not just know that offence is caused

Yes, that sounds right
4(40.0%)
No, no-one sensible will ever be convicted of this, even people who should be
5(50.0%)
Hmmm, see comment
1(10.0%)

Would you kiss me for £1 millon?

Yes, I'd kiss you for free, the money would be a bonus
1(11.1%)
Yes, just for money though
4(44.4%)
No, the money would spoil it. I'd do it for free.
1(11.1%)
No, ewwww!
0(0.0%)
Hmmm, see comment
3(33.3%)

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Is the one million pounds built into the law as a maximum fee people may charge you or as a level of compensation they can expect? (c;

No :) but the responses to the question are covered in the Act...

I understand why the 'imaginary people count' provision is in there: like the banning of 'pseudo-photographs' (eg sticking a child's head on an adult's body in Photoshop), it's partly a way to avoid having to prove that the images are of someone in particular.

But it does make me uncomfortable. Showing an indecent image to a child is covered elsewhere in this Act. Distributing pornographic images is covered elsewhere. So should private possession of entirely ficitious images be illegal? Who is harmed? And how many works of art will this cover?

Presumably all of the putti (child angels, cherubs) in Renaissance art, for starters...

Is 'indecent' merely nude though?

I don't know, but certainly the ones of naked cupids sneaking a peek at sleeping Venuses would probably be counted as indecent, as the 'children' are clearly depicted in a sexual situation.

Depends - nudity has been held to be sufficient in some cases.

This is one of the reasons it remains worrying that the standard as far as Customs are concerned is 'indecent' not 'obscene'.

Well, cherbus/Cupids are usually male, so you can see their naughty bits, which is indecent.

(This is why a woman can't be arrested for indecent exposure, only for 'behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace', I'm told)

2. I would be suspicious about people with an obvious interest in paedophilia being in a caring position with young children. Imaginary images should not be a criminal offence, though.

4. Nudity should never be penalised. Threatening behaviour should.

5. I'd do a lot for a million, but I'd need to see the money first!

The various Sexual Offences Prevention, Foreign Travel, and Risk of Sexual Harm orders introduced - and which do apply in Scotland, unlike the rest of this - are intended to cover that.

Hmmm, yes and no. As it stands, I could jump out and wave my erection at one or more adults and, if arrested, say 'I didn't intend them to be distressed, I intended them to be impressed!' Bingo: I'm not guilty of exposure, even if I knew they were, in fact, alarmed and/or distressed and continued doing it. (I'd expect to be done under public order legislation, of course.)

First words in the bible, according to 'Shopping and Fucking': get the money first!

Bingo: I'm not guilty of exposure

Only if the jury believe your story.

Taking a parallel from another area of criminal law: say I strike Michael Howard with a heavy object and he dies. If I intended to cause him non-trivial harm (to GBH standard IIRC) then I'm guilty of murder. However, if it was a genuine accident, I'm not even guilty of manslaughter. It's entirely open to murderers to claim that the incident was a terrible accident - but juries don't have to believe them. The Soham murder trial is settling just such a question as we write. If it was an accident as he claims, Huntley is not guilty. If the jury decides, beyond reasonable doubt, that he was fibbing and he did intend them serious harm, then he'll be guilty of murder.

Same will apply in the case of exposure. If the jury don't believe your story that you didn't intend to cause distress, they'll still find you guilty. I don't fancy your chances! :-)

(I expect you're right that the rozzers/CPS might choose the public order offence route instead, though.)

Well, past form - in relation to the consent laws - suggests that if you stick to your story about not intending offence, you'd get away with it. This is one of the reasons for the changes in the consent laws in this Act.

The murder examples are not strictly comparable. The House of Lords website has a particularly fascinating section where all their judicial judgements are given.

Annoyingly, the cases I read in the last week about just this are not showing up as 'visited', presumably because they're not showing up in the browser history either.

What will get Huntley (apart from the unbelievable aspects of the story) is that, even if it were true, death is an 'almost inevitable' consequence of sticking your hand over someone's mouth in that manner and keeping it there. So even if he didn't intend she die from it, he should have known that she would = guilty of murder, because he's not claiming diminished responsibility.

"It is, therefore, possible to commit a murder not only without wishing the death of the victim but without the least thought that this might be the result of the assault" said one of the Lords in another case.

Well, past form - in relation to the consent laws - suggests that if you stick to your story about not intending offence, you'd get away with it. This is one of the reasons for the changes in the consent laws in this Act.

Hmmm - happy to defer to your vastly greater knowledge of the background here.

fascinating section where all their judicial judgements are given

It is indeed fascinating! You could lose hours in there ... bit like the House of Commons Library Research papers site.

Huntley [...] death is an 'almost inevitable' consequence of sticking your hand over someone's mouth in that manner and keeping it there [...]

Oh yes - forgot about that - the natural consequences = implied intent business.

he's not claiming diminished responsibility

Nor provocation, which would probably be tricky to convince a jury of in this case!

If you do find the recent case, do tell - 'tis interesting stuff.

I'd have to have permission to kiss you, but I imagine it would be granted if you showed us the money first ... :-)

Big cans of worms here!

The 'indecent images of imaginary children' thing is a tough one, but if you're going to have laws against child porn then you probably need to include photoshop jobs too, or the smarter of those you're targetting will just switch to those.

The consenting adult incest thing is tough too. It squicks me, but I really don't see that as a good basis for law. (I realise this latter view is not one taken by many legislators!) I can see a public health argument for strongly discouraging closely related people from having children together though. Maybe the law should only apply here if they could reasonably have known that someone might become pregnant as a result and they failed to use or were reckless in using contraception? I've not thought this through though, and I expect there are serious problems about legislating for contraceptive use.

The flashing one is tricky too. It might be tougher to convict malevolent flashers, but I can see the naturists' point: nudity per se shouldn't be a criminal offence, even if some prude doesn't like it. Just because a malevolent flasher can say they didn't intend to cause distress doesn't mean a jury will believe them: I can definitely imagine successful prosecutions here.

Would you kiss me for £1 millon?

Hmmm - is the kissing you propose of a nature that a reasonable person would consider it to be sexual, or for a sexual purpose? *grin*

The justification given for including aunts etc was that they share the same percentage of genetic material with you as a half-brother/sister, ie 25% on average.

Definitely think the Lords were right about anonymity - there's too much trial by media these days (although that stretches further than sexual offences of course).

The imaginary images one is a tricky question.. I think it's /probably/ better to enable someone to get their rocks off by looking at imaginary images than be tempted to act it out for real, assuming their desires cant be corrected.

Have to say I think the relative situation is already pretty well covered by the legislation.

The nudity question can be handled by juries successfully arguing the defendent was unreasonable in expecting someone not to be shocked, I feel.

As to the 1 million quid kiss - it would depend if I liked you or not.

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