What Are The Sexual Assault Sentencing Guidelines?

Sexual assault is a serious allegation. As a result, the sentence for sexual assault can be incredibly harsh, leading to a sexual assault prison sentence in the UK that is much longer than the sentences imposed by courts in America or Europe. This is especially true if you’re facing the courts without a strong defence team.

DPP Law’s team of experts can guide you throughout the process, all whilst providing you with the most up-to-date legal advice and support.

Having the information to hand can make the process less stressful, lessening the mystery behind what could happen. So, to help we’ve created this article to explain:

  • What is sexual assault?
  • The Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • What types of actions are considered sexual assaults?
  • Sexual assault sentencing guidelines
  • How does a court decide on the seriousness of sexual assault for sentencing?
  • What factors can reduce a sexual assault sentence?
  • Can you reduce a sexual assault sentence with a guilty plea?
  • What are other consequences of sexual assault?
  • How can DPP Law’s sexual offence solicitors help

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault involves the act of touching another person in a sexual manner without their explicit consent, verbal or otherwise. This can include kissing and touching over clothing and doesn’t always need to involve violence. It is a criminal offence.

Sexual assault is also defined as forcing another person to participate in a sexual activity when they have not expressed consent.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003

The UK has the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which details the sexual offences that are criminalised in the UK. The base of all offences is if a person touches another person sexually and without consent, regardless of whether it’s under or over clothing or if the act involved violence.

Investigations can become quite complex in the event that both parties disagree regarding whether or not consent was given. In this instance, it’s even more vital to have an expert legal team supporting you throughout the process. Legal jargon and convoluted systems will quickly become overwhelming so being able to rely on DPP Law’s expertise is vital.

What Types of Actions are Considered Sexual Assault?

Any action that involves sexually touching another person without their consent, regardless of clothing or violence is considered sexual assault. Forcing another person to undertake sexual activity without their full, express consent.

This includes forcing another person to touch you in a sexual manner or participating in sexual activity.

Sexual Assault Sentencing Guidelines

Sexual assault is a very serious crime. A guilty sentence can potentially lead to long custodial sentences and lifelong consequences. As a result, DPP Law highly recommends being as informed as possible, to fully understand what kind of repercussions you could face if you’ve been accused of sexually assaulting someone.

Sentences for sexual assault can sometimes include being added to the Sexual Offenders Register, where your name will be held for the rest of your life. Sentences range from Community Orders to a maximum of 10 years in custody. The length of the sentence will depend on the seriousness of the offence which is determined by the categories of harm and culpability the offence falls into.

The seriousness of the crime will decide on how long this sentence is, with the most serious earning a prison sentence from 3 to 8 years imprisonment.

A step below would lead to a sentence of one-year imprisonment to up to four years, followed by the ‘least’ serious resulting in a sentence from high-level community order and up to one-year imprisonment.

How Does a Court Determine the Seriousness of an Assault for Sentencing?

Not all sexual assault charges are of the same nature, and this is taken into consideration upon sentencing within UK Courts. To make this more straightforward, they have been broken down into categories, with corresponding sentences:

Category 1

Category one is for crimes of a violent nature directed toward the alleged victim, including any mental harm and even abduction.

Category 2

Category two is for crimes in which the victim was particularly vulnerable or manipulated by a person in a position of trust.

Category 3

Category three covers types of sexual assault not specifically identified in categories 1 and 2 and are therefore treated as the least serious.

In addition, the Court will consider the Culpability the offender falls into, including the degree of planning, acting with others, using alcohol or drugs on the victim, committing the offence in the course of a burglary, recording of the offence, commercial exploitation, racially or religiously aggravated, hostility based on sexual orientation and hostility based on disability.

The Court will consider the offence Category and the Culpability when deciding on a sentence.

What Factors Can Reduce a Sexual Assault Sentence?

Whilst there are factors that can impact how severe the sentence for sexual assault is, there are also factors that can reduce a sexual assault sentence. These can include:

  • If the accused is disabled
  • If the accused is mentally ill
  • How old the accused was at the time of the crime
  • If there is evidence that the crime stopped before law enforcement was made aware
  • If the accused admitted to the crime and cooperated

Can You Reduce a Sexual Assault Sentence with a Guilty Plea?

It is possible to reduce a sexual assault sentence with a guilty plea in the UK, and over time the Courts have made changes in the sentencing system to be able to save time and avoid going through unnecessary trials. 

Accused people aged 18 and over may enter an early guilty plea and receive a reduced sentence by as much as a third. These early pleas are from any time from the beginning of proceedings and up to the first hearing at the Magistrates Court or Crown Court. However, if a plea is entered two weeks after the first hearing, the sentence will be reduced by a fifth instead.

If you don’t want to plead guilty, it is absolutely essential to have a well-equipped and successful legal team supporting you throughout the trial.

For more information about reductions in sentencing, please see the Sentencing Council’s reduction in sentence for a guilty plea definitive guideline.

What are Other Consequences of Sexual Assault?

There are further consequences of sexual assault crimes beyond imprisonment, including:

Ancillary Orders

Courts can put an ancillary order on a defendant if they’re found guilty and are convicted of sexual assault. These orders add further restrictions on their life, such as:

  • Registration on the Sexual Offenders Register
  • Restraint orders
  • Reparation orders
  • Confiscation orders
  • Victims surcharge

Other consequences can include a court order to pay for the legal costs for the prosecutor, evidence gathering and further investigation elements such as witness interviews and medical assessments.

How Can DPP Law’s Sexual Offence Solicitors Help?

Over three decades of experience handling sensitive, complex and emotional cases surrounding sexual crimes and sexual assault, DPP Law’s team of experienced sexual assault solicitors have dealt with many erious cases involving the importation of drugs within the UK and know how to get the best results possible. 

Facing a sexual assault charge can feel as though your life is hanging in the balance, especially as you begin imagining what type of sentence you could face when you face the courts. 

Combined with confusing legal processes and drawn-out procedures across the board, it can seem impossible to handle, therefore having an expert team at your side will mean you can navigate the situation smoothly, reducing stress and worry by having DPP Law’s team of experts by your side, supporting you and fighting for the best possible results. With over three decades of experience handling sexual assault cases, we can reduce your stress and worry and refocus your energy on feeling more optimistic.

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Speak to an Expert at DPP Law Today

Get in touch with DPP Law’s expert team of solicitors to make the process smoother. They can provide you with all the information you might need about sexual offences and work with you to provide you with the best defence.