Indecent Images Lawyers London UK

We have an experienced, non-judgemental indecent image lawyers in London, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey & available nationwide.

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Do You Need A Specialist Indecent Images Lawyer?

Have you been accused of possessing, making or distributing indecent images of children? If so, you need to speak with an independent indecent images lawyer who has experience in handling cases of this sensitive nature. Our non-judgmental team is on hand 24/7 to assist you through this traumatic time of your life.

We appreciate the impact that cases of this nature can potentially have on your mental health, livelihood, relationships and liberty. It is not uncommon for indecent image cases to take a year or longer from the police investigation stage to court proceedings, but we will be there to support and guide you through this process.

Please call us on our 24-hour line of 0800 2335822 and discuss your case in the strictest of confidence.

What Is Defined As Indecent Images?

The legislation is covered by both the Protection of Children Act 1978 and the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

An indecent image offence is committed if a suspect possesses, makes or distributes an indecent image of a child under 18 years of age. Some people believe this age is 16, which is the age of consent for sexual relationships.

Indecent images can also extend to images of animals, which can be classified as extreme pornography.

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What Are The Categories Of Indecent Images?

Indecent images of children are categorised into three categories from A (serious) to C (less serious).

  • Category A – Explicit images involving penetration, sexual activity with an animal or sadism.
  • Category B – Explicit images that are non-penetrative sexual activity.
  • Category C – Explicit images involving erotic posing.
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Defences Are Available For Indecent Image Offences

Suppose you have a ‘legitimate reason’ for having such indecent images in your possession. In that case, you will have to satisfy the court that this is part of academic research studies and/or if you are a legal professional researching the law as part of their everyday job.

A ‘lack of knowledge’ of the indecent image being of a child is a defence in that the suspect had not seen or was unaware of its presence on a digital device or had no reason to believe that it was indecent. The court will have to be satisfied that the suspect did not have the knowledge element to commit this offence.

The image was sent to a suspect without any prior warning, and it was not kept for an unreasonable time. An example could be receiving an email with an attachment and, once realising the contents, deleting it immediately.

It is important to understand that even if an image is deleted does not automatically provide a defence as the court will have to consider a number of factors.

Can The Police Search My Home For Digital Devices?

The police will usually obtain a warrant from the court, which they will execute at the suspect’s last known address and/or addresses that they associate with.

The police can also search any premises under s32 of the police and criminal evidence act (PACE) 1984 upon arrest or under s18 (PACE) if in custody and authorised by an officer of the rank of inspector or above.

Either way, electronic devices are likely to be seized in connection with an allegation such as indecent images. The time it takes to analyse devices can vary case by case and can be determined by a number of factors.

How Long Do Indecent Image Police Investigations Take?

A police investigation can take anything between 6 months to 2 years, which will be from the point of the interview to a discontinuance of the case or a charge to appear at court. The main delay in cases of this sensitive nature is due to forensic evidence of digital devices needing looking into.

Do I Have To Provide The Police With My PIN And Passwords To My Devices?

The contents held within a device can often prove useful in a police investigation in proving or disproving involvement in the commission of a criminal offence and, in particular, cases relating to indecent images.

In the case of an indecent images police investigation, you do not have to disclose your PIN or Password. However, failing to do so can constitute a separate criminal offence.

Section 49 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) gives the police the power to issue a notice to a person requiring that they disclose their PIN or password. They do, however, need permission from a judge, which is usually forthcoming.

Once the appropriate permission has been sought, the police can request your PIN or Password. It is an offence under section 53 if you fail to comply with such notice.

The consequences of this may result upon conviction in a custodial sentence of up to 2 years. This could be up to 5 years in cases involving national security and child indecency.

Please be aware of the police issuing ‘warning notices’ in the first instance as opposed to an authentic section 49 notice.

What Are The Culpability Criteria At Sentencing?

There are a number of factors for the court to take into consideration with determining a level of culpability.

  • The number of images and what category.
  • The age of the subject featured in such images.
  • The vulnerability of the subject featured.
  • The amount of pain or distress caused.
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Court Sentencing Guidelines For Indecent Image Offences

Penalties can range from community orders to a prison sentence of up to 10 years. You are also required to be on the sex offender’s register.

When custodial sentences are indicated, the courts have the power to suspend custodial sentences of up to two years. You can also be given a reduction of up to one third on your sentence by pleading guilty at your earliest opportunity. This is not to be confused with making admissions in an interview. You must take legal advice on that course.

In a case of making or possessing indecent images:

  • Category A – Images have a starting point of 12 months of custody.
  • Category B – Images have a starting point of 6 months of custody.
  • Category C – Images have a starting point of a high-level community order.

In a case of the distribution of indecent images:

  • Category A – Images have a starting point of 3 years of custody.
  • Category B – Images have a starting point of 12 months of custody.
  • Category C – Images have a starting point of 13 weeks of custody.

In a case of producing indecent images:

  • Category A – Images have a starting point of 6 years of custody.
  • Category B – Images have a starting point of 2 years of custody.
  • Category C – Images have a starting point of 18 months of custody.

Will I Be Placed On The Violent And Sex Offender Register (ViSOR Database)?

If cautioned or convicted for a qualifying offence such as indecent images, you will be placed on what is commonly known as the sex offenders’ register. You will be subject to certain notification requirements for compliance, such as notifying the police of specific personal details.

The police must also be notified if there are any changes to your details or circumstances, which could include staying away from your place of abode for a period and any intention of foreign travel.

It is a legal requirement to register at a police station within 3 days of your caution, conviction or release from prison. Failure to do so is a separate offence which may result in a prosecution.

The length of time that you can be made subject to the notification requirements is dependent on the case outcome and is as follows in the case of an adult:

  • A police caution – 2 years.
  • A fine or community order – 5 years.
  • A custodial sentence of 6 months or less – 7 years.
  • A custodial of more than 6 months but less than 30 months – 10 years.
  • A custodial sentence of more than 30 months – Indefinite.

For a youth (under 18) the above periods are halved. It is important to understand that a suspended prison sentence is a custodial sentence.

If you are found to be in breach of your notification requirements, it is a separate offence that carries a maximum term of 5 years of imprisonment.

What Is A Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO)?

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order is an ancillary order made by the court. It is separate from any offence that may be passed for a relevant sexual offence, including indecent images of children cases.

It is additional to being placed on the sex offenders register and being made subject to the notification requirements. An SHPO must not conflict with the sex offender notification requirements and need not be the same length of time.

The main difference is that an SHPO prohibits you from doing specified things, while the sex offender notification requirements require the carrying out of certain actions.

The court will usually impose an SHPO upon conviction but can also do so without if the Police or National Crime Agency makes a complaint and provides sufficient information.

To impose an SHPO, the court must be satisfied that the offender presents a risk of sexual harm to the public or any particular members of the public and that the order is necessary to protect against the risk.

The SHPO may prohibit the offender from carrying out certain activities on the internet, but this would have to be tailored to be case specific.

For example, as indecent images of children cases involve illegal activity online, it may not be appropriate to impose a prohibition restricting physical contact with a child.

The length of a SHPO can be imposed for a minimum term of 5 years and has no maximum length or until further order.

If found to be in breach of the prohibitions set out in an SHPO, the maximum penalty, if convicted of indictment, is for a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years.

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