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What Is Distributing Child Exploitation Material?
Under Section 228C of the Criminal Code Act 1899, distributing child exploitation material is a serious offence with a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment. This increases to 20 years if aggravating factors, such as using a hidden network, are present.
The elements of this offence are:
The term ‘child exploitation material’ extends beyond photos and videos. It can also encompass other forms, such as written fantasies. The legal definition, as per section 207A of the Criminal Code Act 1899, includes any material that offensively depicts or describes a person under 16 years in a sexual context, in a demeaning situation, or being subjected to abuse, cruelty, or torture.
Distributing such material is viewed severely under the law, considering the broad interpretation of what constitutes exploitation. It’s a charge that demands thorough legal understanding and a robust defence strategy, given the significant penalties involved.
Defences for Distributing Child Exploitation Material
A defence to charges relating to the distribution of child exploitation material exists if the accused can demonstrate:
An example of a legitimate purpose might be a medical professional documenting a child’s condition as part of medical records. However, if charged, it is the duty of the professional to present this defence. Subsequently, the prosecution is required to disprove the defence beyond reasonable doubt. While there is potential for case conferencing, it doesn’t guarantee an automatic dismissal of charges. Each case and defence is evaluated on its individual merits.
Another defence is proving that:
Mistaken Age is Not a Valid Defence
A mistake regarding the age of a child is not a valid defence (Section 229). In most instances, direct evidence of the child’s age in the material, such as an image, may not be available. It is then up to the Judge or Jury, based on their judgement and experience, to determine if the child is under 16. Conviction requires their satisfaction beyond reasonable doubt.
Understanding these defences highlights the complexities involved in cases of distributing child exploitation material. Given the serious nature of these charges, seeking expert legal advice is strongly advised.
What to Do If Charged with Distributing Child Exploitation Material?
Facing charges for distributing child exploitation material places you in a complex and continuously evolving legal situation. Protecting your rights becomes paramount, especially when police wish to question you regarding the matter. Immediate steps should be taken to safeguard your interests: