Our specialist solicitors at Lawtons can help defend cases pertaining to sexual offences, particularly those involving the possession or distribution of indecent images. We have a highly qualified and experienced team who understand this complex area of the law in detail.
Being involved in an investigation relating to indecent image charges can be a highly stressful time. Your reputation is at stake. Added to this, it is one of the most difficult areas to specifically define in the 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 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 even when someone simply downloads them from the internet, as the act of downloading ‘makes’ the image on the device upon which the image has been downloaded.
One aspect of an indecent image case that will be considered is to prove knowledge of having the indecent images on any 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, whilst being unaware you are in the possession of indecent images will not necessarily mean you are found innocent, neither is it true that awareness and looking at the images automatically means you will be found guilty.
We use experts to examine electronic devices upon which indecent material may be found, who are able to challenge and consider the way in which the prosecution have graded the material that the police may have found 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 for doing so, in addition to whether the images are of children under the age of 18.
Sentences for possessing and making indecent images will vary depending on the categorisation of the images and the number of images involved.
Sentences will only be granted following intensive expert investigations and specialist computer analysis to discover how the images appeared in your possession.
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?
The particularly varied nature of indecent images charges means that there is much to consider. If you are accused of possessing indecent images, it is critical to seek 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 guidance is offered regarding your cooperation with the investigations associated with your case, including the analyses undertaken by police. This way, 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 contact us.