Crime figures show that there is a decline in reported crime. Sexual offences, however, are bucking that trend with a dramatic increase in reported crimes year on year. Around 40% of all trials at Crown Courts are for sexual offences.
This is partly explained by the massive publicity following the Jimmy Savile scandal but the underlying trend was increasing long before this. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 consolidated the disparate criminal statutes for sex offences and together with other legislative changes have overtly sought to increase the historically low conviction rates for sex offence allegation. In short, Parliament has strived for many years to make it easier to get a conviction for sex offences.
The area where this trend has the greatest potential for miscarriages of justice is allegations concerning so-called "date rape" or sexual assaults in the context of a long-term relationships. In such cases the only issue in dispute is whether the complainant consented to the sexual act or not. Typically there will be no other witnesses to support one side or the other and little, if any, forensic evidence of any weight. It is one person's word against the other. Whoever is the most persuasive witness wins the case.
For a person facing such allegations the situation feels desperate. Our experienced team of lawyers has unparalleled experience in helping suspects through these difficult times and achieving excellent results for them. The key to success is thorough preparation from the outset.
Very often suspects can be kept on police bail for many months, or even years, during which time the police will be seeking to strengthen their case. Unfortunately, many defence solicitors do not proactively advance their client's defence during this time and merely wait for the police decision to charge or not.
We engage with our clients from the first day of being instructed to take detailed evidence and seek out supporting witnesses and exhibits that can be used to convince the police that there is insufficient evidence to proceed to charge. In a recent case we were able to trace and obtain CCTV evidence from a nightclub to show that the alleged "victim" of a date-rape allegation was sober and had initiated sexual contact, contrary to her statement of complaint.
We have on several occasions defended young men who have had a "one night stand" only to find that some time after the liaison the other party has cried "rape". The evidential difference between a regretted sexual encounter and rape is a slender one making it incredibly easy to allege rape and extremely difficult to defend against. It is all too common for false accusations to be made, especially in the context of the breakdown of a relationship.
One of our clients is a well-known TV celebrity whose career would have ended in disgrace were it not for our skill and experience proving that the allegations against him were untrue. We were also able to keep the case out of the media using our experience of reputation management, something many lawyers would not be able to achieve.
The Jimmy Savile case has left a legacy that has also served to increase allegations of historical sexual assaults and rape. There is little doubt that in the past there was a stigma attached to making rape allegations that deterred many victims from coming forward. Police training and a change in the attitude towards conducting investigations has gone a long way to making the process less arduous for complainants. This was long overdue and a matter of great shame for the police community who contributed to many sexual predators continuing to prey on the vulnerable for many years.
However, there is a fear that the pendulum has swung too far and that investigations of sexual allegations do not adequately challenge the allegations. This fear was confirmed when the Met Police appealed for "victims" to come forward with assurances that they "would be believed". Remember, in a criminal trial there is no need for any corroboration. The allegation alone is sufficient to obtain a conviction.
In a recent case an allegation made by a daughter against her father was revealed to be utter fantasy having its inspiration from the notorious sado-masochistic novel 50 Shades of Grey. The motivation for the allegation was to get revenge on the father for being too strict. Had the fabrication not been revealed in cross-examination the father could have expected a prison sentence of ten years.
We understand the delicate nature of these cases and our dedication to reputation management and client-care makes us the ideal choice.
CALL NOW FOR A FREE CONSULTATION WITH OUR SPECIALIST SEXUAL OFFENCES SOLICITOR 07980 800512 (DIRECT LINE)