Indecent Images Solicitors
If you are being investigated for or charged with making, possession or distribution of indecent images, you should seek expert help from indecent images solicitors as soon as possible. We understand how distressing it is to be facing an allegation involving Indecent Images of Children.
We have dealt with hundreds of these cases and offer a complete, bespoke package that’s more than just legal advice. We offer support for you through what will be a very difficult period. We can also refer you to an outside agency for specialist support. We know that a lot of people find themselves in this situation during a low period of their life. You will be treated with respect and discretion. We will listen to your side of the story without judgement.
We will listen to you without judgement.
We will offer you support through this difficult period.
We understand that discretion is very important to you.
The Law Regarding Indecent Images.
The law in relation to Indecent Images is complex. It is helpful to look at not just the law but the definitions behind it.
The law is covered in two separate Acts. The Protection of Children Act 1978 covers making, taking and distributing Indecent Images. The Criminal Justice Act 1988 covers possession of Indecent Images.
Under the Protection of Children Act it is an offence to –
- Take, or permit to be taken, or to make, any indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child or
- To distribute or show such indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs or
- To have in your possession such indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs, with a view to their being distributed or shown by yourself or others; or
- To publish or cause to be published any advertisement likely to be understood as conveying that the advertiser distributes or shows such indecent photographs or intends to do so.
Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 s160 it is an offence for a person to have any indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child in his possession.
A child is defined as anyone under 18. If the age is not known then the court will determine the person’s age from all of the evidence available.
A photograph includes videos, and a Pseudo Photograph means an image or computer data whether made by computer graphics or otherwise which appears to be a photograph of a child. This can include for example two different photographs combined to create a pseudo indecent image.
Making an Indecent Image.
Making includes making a new image or copying an old image. It includes printing or photocopying an image. It can also include opening an attachment to an email that contains an indecent photograph or downloading an image from the internet to your computer screen.
Simply viewing an image on a website will not be classed as making an indecent image but will amount to ‘Possession of an Indecent Image’
Distribution of an Indecent Image.
Distribution is defined as parting with possession of the indecent photograph or exposing or offering it to others. This is regardless of whether or not payment changes hands. Providing a password to someone to allow them access will be classed as distribution. Allowing another person to access indecent images electronically, by sending it via Whatsapp or similar programmes, for example, counts as distribution.
How Can You Defend An Indecent Images Allegation?
This is a serious allegation and you should initially ensure that the allegation itself has been charged as the correct offence. Mistakes are made in this complex area of law.
If the charge itself is correct based on the allegation, our specialist indecent images solicitors will hear your side of the story and advise whether you should plead guilty or not guilty and the strength of any defence you may have.
Indecent images will likely have been found on your electronic devices and our specialist team will need to review whether the police’s interrogation of your devices has been conducted correctly and whether its results have been interpreted correctly. We may have to obtain our own analysis of the devices or expert response to the initial report.
If a person is charged with the above offences, are there any defences?
You should be aware that defending a case like this is highly complex and technical, and you will need help from our indecent images solicitors.
There are five statutory defences.
In brief, the five statutory defences are as follows:-
- legitimate reason
- ‘lack of awareness’
- unsolicited photographs
- marriage and other relationships
- criminal proceedings and investigations
All of these are complex defences. It is important that you seek expert help as soon as possible if you want to successfully defend these charges.
What will happen during an investigation into Indecent Images?
Indecent Images investigations are normally a very lengthy process and the police investigation can take many months or even upwards of a year.
Typically, the first thing you will hear is the police arriving with a warrant to search your premises. They will attend for a number of reasons, they may have been tipped off by an internet provider, sometimes someone is arrested for distributing indecent images and then the police work through all the people that the images have been distributed to. You may have been part of a chat group or have a content sharing programme or have paid for an illegal website.
The police will normally take away all computers, tablets and mobile phones. You may be arrested at that stage and questioned or you may be told you will be invited in for interview at a later date. You will not get the equipment back until the investigation is finished, if at all. If you are charged and convicted the police can apply to have the equipment destroyed.
The police will then send the equipment off to be analysed to see what images are contained on the equipment. They will be able to discover images even if they have been deleted. This stage can take many many months.
You will be interviewed at some stage, sometimes more than once, and asked to give an explanation for images found or asked whether there will be any images if they have not yet analysed the equipment.
Once the investigation is complete you will be either charged or they may decide there is not enough evidence to charge.
Sometimes the police can agree to caution you instead of charging you.
If you are charged you will appear in court a few weeks later. Depending on how serious the matter is you will be dealt with by the Magistrates or the Crown Court if it is serious.
What sentencing powers do the courts have for Indecent Images Offences?
In deciding how to sentence for indecent images there are 3 categories of images depending on how serious they are. The most serious category is Category A. This category covers the most extreme images and involves sexual penetration. The next Category, B covers sexual activity but without penetration. Finally the least serious category is category C which involves indecent images without sexual activity but includes sexually suggestive content.
The court should determine the offence category and then the sentence using the table below.
Possession of images involving penetrative sexual activity. Possession of images involving sexual activity with an animal or sadism.
1 year’s custody
26 weeks’ – 3 years’ custody
Sharing images involving penetrative sexual activity. Sharing images involving sexual activity with an animal or sadism.
3 years’ custody
2 – 5 years’ custody
Creating images involving penetrative sexual activity. Creating images involving sexual activity with an animal or sadism.
6 years’ custody
4 – 9 years’ custody
Possession of images involving non-penetrative sexual activity.
26 weeks’ custody
High level community order – 18 months’ custody
Sharing of images involving non-penetrative sexual activity.
1 year’s custody
26 weeks’ – 2 years’ custody
Creating images involving non-penetrative sexual activity.
2 years’ custody
1 – 4 years’ custody
Possession of other indecent images not falling within categories A or B.
High level community order
Medium level community order – 26 weeks’ custody
Sharing of other indecent images not falling within categories A or B.
13 weeks’ custody
High level community order – 26 weeks’ custody
Creating other indecent images not falling within categories A or B.
18 months’ custody
1 – 3 years’ custody
These are guidelines only. Normally when a person is charged with these offences, there are a number of charges as the images found are a combination of all categories. The court will sentence for all of the charges but will then decide whether the sentences are all to be served at the same time (concurrent) or one after another (consecutive).
The court will also take into account other factors when deciding on the sentence. Some will make it more serious, some less serious. Factors such as any previous convictions, remorse, actions you have taken since, whether the children are known to you and the ages of the children are among a large number of factors that can be taken into account and will either be mitigating factors or aggravating factors.
On conviction you will have to sign on the Sex Offenders Register regardless of the sentence, and orders such as Sexual Harm Prevention Orders will likely be imposed against you. These place restrictions on you such as your ability to have contact with children, work with computers, or access the internet. The drafting of these Orders is a careful and complex matter as they must be proportionate for the details of your specific case.
Can I avoid Court?
Possibly, where appropriate we will make representations as to why you should not be charged or to persuade the police to deal with it by way of a caution. A caution is only a possibility in cases where you admit guilt and wish to take responsibility at the earliest possible stage.
How Can Forrest Williams Help?
As specialist indecent images solicitors, Forrest Williams are experienced in this field and understand both the technical aspects of the law in this field and the technological difficulties and mistakes commonly made when inspecting and analysing electronic devices.
We will be proactive, we will liaise with the police so that you get regular updates, and where appropriate we will try and persuade the police not to proceed to court.
We will support you throughout the process and work with you to build the best possible case for you. If you are pleading guilty we will take a very full statement and then work together to build a portfolio of supporting information so that we can show the full picture, presenting you in the best possible light to get the most lenient sentence. We will also do everything possible to avoid any publicity.
We are a private firm and do not do any Legal Aid work. This allows us to focus on clients who understand that their cases are too important for Legal Aid, or who do not qualify for Legal Aid. Please remember that Legal Aid is not free. If you do qualify for Legal Aid, you will be required to make financial contributions to this so will in effect be paying for legal representation without having the high-level of care that a private firm can offer.
We help people throughout England and Wales and can see people face to face in Nottingham, Birmingham and London. Other venues may be possible by agreement.
If you are charged with any sexual offences, we can help.
With Forrest Williams on your side, you’re in control. You can depend on us.