In this issue
Welcome
The Role of the Media in Sexual Offences Investigations and Prosecutions
Engaging in "Controlling or Coercive Behaviour": A New Criminal Offence
Intoxication and Capacity to Consent: The Call for Legislation
Bridging the Gap - The Extension of Previous Complaint Evidence in Prosecutions of Sexual Offences
When may distribution of indecent images, absent contact offending, warrant the making of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order?
Sexual Offences Sentencing Update
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Feature Articles
The Role of the Media in Sexual Offences Investigations and Prosecutions

Extensive media scrutiny of cases involving allegations of sexual offending by high-profile individuals has been very prevalent in recent years.  However, the recent case of Lord Janner appears to demonstrate that charging decisions based on supposedly sound legal principles (such as unfitness to plead) are, worryingly, apparently subject to influence by media opinion.  Ben Newton considers this disturbing development.

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Engaging in "Controlling or Coercive Behaviour": A New Criminal Offence

Practitioners should be aware of an important new indictable offence which was introduced on 29th December 2015 - "engaging in controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or familial relationship".  It carries a sentence of up to five years' imprisonment.  Kate O'Raghallaigh considers quite how far it extends the existing stalking and harassment legislation.

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Intoxication and Capacity to Consent: The Call for Legislation

Excessive alcohol consumption features heavily in the facts of many sexual offences trials.  But despite the large number of cases where it is a factor there has been an apparent reluctance to legislate or offer prescriptive guidance on these issues.  Emma Goodall takes a closer look and identifies some sources which may assist practitioners.

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Bridging the Gap - The Extension of Previous Complaint Evidence in Prosecutions of Sexual Offences

Defence solicitors will know of cases where the principal witness has given an incomplete account to police, which falls short of the detail required to prove the offence.  Happily for clients, such cases were unlikely to be charged or make it to trial.  However, it is increasingly the case that prosecutors are relying more heavily on the admission of hearsay complaint in order to make out the offence.  Sarah Elliott QC explores how prosecutors are trying to get round the evidential difficulties of their cases.

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When may distribution of indecent images, absent contact offending, warrant the making of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order?

Sexual Harm Prevention Orders - SHPOs - are consequential, or ancillary, orders that are vital in the armoury of sentencing judges in cases of sexual harm, or even a mere risk of sexual harm. Recent appellate cases reiterate and further the key principles that underpin the making of so-called SHPOs, and Abigail Bright takes a closer look at this case law.

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Sexual Offences Sentencing Update

Sexual offences cases represent an area of the criminal law where sentencing practice is complex and seems to change rapidly.  Legislation is also regularly updated, so it is easy for defence practitioners' knowledge to become out of date.  David Rhodes provides a quick round up of some important new cases, and directs readers to legislative changes involving extended sentences and "offenders of particular concern".

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