Being involved in an investigation relating to indecent image charges can be a highly stressful time. Your reputation and liberty is at stake. Added to this, it is one of the most difficult areas to define by law and yet can be punishable by imprisonment.
It is therefore essential to work with a specialist team of solicitors such as
Lawtons to prepare your defence case.
What are indecent images?
There are three categories – or ‘grades’ – of indecent images of children defined in law:
- Category A – explicit images of sexual penetration, sadism or sexual activity with an animal
- Category B – explicit images of non-penetrative sexual activity
- Category C – explicit images of erotic or sexual posing
Indecent images and the law
There are several elements to the law when it comes to indecent image charges, which will be judged based on the individual facts of the case.
The two main distinctions made in the law are between:
- The possession of indecent images
- The making of indecent images with an intention to distribute or advertise
Making of indecent images can occur in many ways, often when someone simply downloads them from the internet. The act of downloading “makes” the indecent image on the device upon which the image has been downloaded. However, the “making” of the image can also happen automatically happen sometimes when a device visits a web page on which indecent images of children are visible. This is a particularly complex area of the law and a comprehensive understanding of the technology behind this is vital to ensure that the right advice and tactical approach is adopted.
One aspect of an indecent image case is for the police or prosecution to prove knowledge of having indecent images on a device such as a computer, laptop or phone. There may be occasions when the person arrested or being investigated has ownership of the device on which the indecent images may be found, but that they may not have exclusive control of it, for example a shared computer.
However, the fact that you were unaware that you are in possession of indecent images will not necessarily mean you are found innocent. Likewise, awareness and looking at the images does not necessarily mean you will be found guilty.
To complement our expertise, we use experts to examine electronic devices upon which indecent material may be found. The experts are able to challenge and consider the way in which the prosecution have graded the material in the event that it is disputed.
Further factors that may be taken into consideration during a case involving indecent image charges include:
- Whether there is a legitimate reason for possessing the images and the intentions
- Whether the images are in fact of children under the age of 18, this can be the subject of debate
Sentences for possessing and making indecent images will vary depending on various factors including on the categorisation of the images and the number of images involved.
If you are convicted of an offence regarding indecent images, you will be required by law to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register. Further sentences will depend on the factors of the specific case.
Defences for possessing or making indecent images
There are 2 statutory defences which can be applied regarding indecent images:
- Legitimate reason – this defence is rarely used as it requires the individual to provide a legitimate reason for being in possession of indecent images
- Lack of awareness – the individual accused would have to prove they had not seen the images and they had no reason to assume they were indecent. This defence may apply if the images were ‘made’ inadvertently on the device on which they were found, such as via a pop-up
What should you do if you are accused of possessing indecent images?
If you have been the subject of a search warrant issued under the Protection of Children Act and have had items seized or are accused of possessing indecent images, it is critical to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible, so we are able to gather all the necessary evidence to defend your case.
Our specialist team of solicitors at Lawtons – dedicated to sexual offence cases – is on hand to ensure every angle is assessed professionally and that expert guidance is offered. This can include advice on whether you cooperate with the police investigations associated with your case, and a comprehensive review of the examinations undertaken by police. Our expertise and proven track record helps to ensure we can work towards the most favourable outcome for you.
For more information on legal proceedings surrounding indecent images charges, or to discuss an individual case in complete confidence, please just
- Sex crime solicitors
- Indecent assault and sexual assault solicitors
- Rape solicitors
- Sexual abuse solicitors
What does ‘possession’ of indecent images mean?
To be found guilty of possession of indecent images, there must be evidence of physical possession, control and custody of the indecent images, as well as the knowledge that the images are on your device and are indecent in nature.
What is the sentence for possession of indecent images?
Possession of indecent images is an either way offence punishable on indictment with up to ten years imprisonment.
What are ‘prohibited’ images?
Prohibited images are illegal but different to indecent images of children— it is a crime to possess them. They might involve child pornography (including drawings), but typicallly are those of extreme violence/ torture and some sado-masochistic acts or animal abuse.
Can a child be prosecuted for sharing indecent images while sexting?
Yes. Sharing explicit images of a child is illegal, even if the person doing it is a
child, but expert advice and sensitive handling of such a case can result in the police taking no further action depending on the circumstances.