Historical Sexual Offences

Being accused of a historical sexual offence can come as a huge shock and these allegations are often challenging to disprove due to how long ago the alleged offence occurred. We are specialists that can offer same day appointments including virtual or out of hours if you work.

The difference between a conviction and an acquittal can sometimes be the judgement call of the lawyer advising you to answer or not answering questions in the police interview. We will meet you in advance of the police station interview where possible to discuss your version and defence. We can offer rapid enhanced partner led private service where required to maximise your chances.

If you are convicted, you could face a prison sentence, the loss of your reputation and career, as well as a very negative impact on your family. It is therefore essential to have the very best legal defence from the outset. We work with the top U.K barristers in this field. We can offer enhanced private service in this field to maximise your chances of the bet outcome.

Our criminal defence team have over 45 years of experience advising and representing clients, with specific experience dealing with historical sexual offences. We can offer the clear, effective advice and representation you need from the point of arrest or voluntary interview with the police, right through to trial where required.

With our detailed understanding of current and historic sexual offence laws, we are often able to help clients avoid charges or see charges dropped early in an investigation. If your case goes to trial, we can ensure you have the best possible representation at every stage.

If you have been arrested or charged with a revenge porn offence, you can contact us 24-hours a day, seven days a week for an immediate free initial consultation, expert legal advice and representation.

We speak a variety of languages across our team and work with a number of accredited interpreters, so no matter your background, we can provide the clear legal advice and sympathetic personal support in your language for every stage of criminal proceedings.

For a free initial consultation on dealing with a historic sexual offence allegation, please contact our local offices in London, Birmingham or Manchester.

Need immediate legal support for a historic sexual offence? Our accredited Police Station Representatives and solicitors are available 24 hours a day 365 days a year using the emergency numbers listed at the top of the page.

Our expertise with historic sexual offences

We have strong experience defending clients accused of historical sexual offences and have a detailed understanding of all current and former legislation that such offences can be prosecuted under. Our team also understand how distressing it is to face allegations of this nature, so can offer sympathetic personal support alongside our exceptional legal expertise.

Our historical sexual offences lawyers understand how to handle these complex cases to best protect your legal rights and reputation. Because these cases often hinge on testimony from the alleged victim, defendant and witnesses, our expertise in examining and finding inconsistencies and other issues with personal testimony can be highly advantageous.

We work with the country’s leading criminal defence barristers specialising in historic sexual offences, so if your case does go to trial, we can ensure you have the best possible representation.

What to do if you are accused of a historical sexual offence

It is vital to know your legal rights when arrested on suspicion of committing a historical sexual offence. This can help to prevent the risk of you saying or doing anything to unintentionally harm your defence, which can be difficult to recover from.

When interviewed by police interview in connection to a historical sexual offence, please remember the following essential points:

  1. You do not have to answer any questions asked by the police.
  2. You should never answer any police questions without a solicitor present.
  3. You have the right to free legal representation.
  4. You can use the duty solicitor available or choose your own lawyer.

If you are arrested on suspicion of a historical sexual offence, the arresting officers must tell you the specific offence you are accused of committing and they must caution you by using the words:

“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”

Following a police interview for a historical sexual offence, one of the following will occur:

  • You are released with no further action
  • You are released under investigation
  • You are charged with a specific child sexual offence

If you are charged with a historical sexual offence:

  • A date will be set for a court hearing
  • You will either:

If you are released with no further action or under investigation, you can be rearrested or summonsed to attend court at a later date.

What is considered a historical sexual offence?

There is no specific definition of what is considered a ‘historical’ sexual offence (sometimes also referred to as ‘historic sexual offences’), although the term is generally used to refer to alleged offences that happened many years ago, often when different laws around sexual offences were in force.

An important point to understand is the historic sexual offence cases will be dealt with by the laws that were current at the time of the alleged offence. The law around most sexual offences changed significantly following the introduction of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (which came into force on 1 May 2004). This Act mostly repealed and replaced the earlier Sexual Offences Act 1956.

Most historical sexual offences will therefore be dealt with under the 1956 Act, so your defence team will need to have a strong understanding of this historic legislation. This means that being represented by lawyers with specific experience handling historical sexual offences cases is a significant advantage when facing historic sexual offence charges.

Penalties for historical sexual offences

The penalties on conviction for an historic sexual offence will be based on the relevant laws in force at the time.

Under the Sexual Offences Act 1956, the maximum penalties for various offences are:

Rape – Up to life imprisonment.

Sexual intercourse with a girl under 13 – Up to life imprisonment.

Indecent assault on a woman – Up to 10 years’ imprisonment (depending on when the offence occurred as sentencing guidelines changed over time)

Indecent assault on a man – Up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

There are also various other types of historic sexual offences that fall under different pieces of legislation that preceded the Sexual Offences Act 2003, including:

Indecency with a child (Children Act 1960) – Maximum sentence: 2 or 10 years’ imprisonment (depending on whether the offence occurred before or after 1 October 1997).

Taking indecent photographs of a child (Protection of Children Act 1978) – Maximum sentence: 3 or 10 years’ imprisonment (depending on whether the offence occurred before or after 11 January 2001).

Possession of indecent photographs of a child (Criminal Justice Act 1988) – Maximum sentence: 6 months or 5 years (depending on whether the offence occurred before or after 11 January 2001).

What defence is there against historical sexual accusations?

Because historic sexual offences usually involve alleged abuse that took place decades ago, there is usually no DNA or other forensic evidence for police and the prosecution to use. Their case will therefore normally rely entirely on statements from the alleged victim and any supporting witnesses.

Your defence will therefore often hinge on the credibility and reliability of the alleged victim, as well as statements from other witnesses who can support your side of the story.

There can also be technical reasons why a historic prosecution cannot go ahead. For example, under the Sexual Offences Act 1956, there was a 12-month time limit for females to report to police allegations of unlawful sex that occurred when they were 14-15 years old. If they failed to do so, this can be grounds to see a potential prosecution dropped.

Thanks to our criminal defence team’s extensive experience with historical sexual offence cases, we can ensure no detail is overlooked or potential angle of defence missed. We can give you the best chance of avoiding charges, seeing charges dropped or securing the best available outcome at trial.

Contact our historic sexual offences defence lawyers today

For a free initial consultation, urgent specialist advice, immediate representation or to speak to us confidentially about allegations of committing a historic sexual offence at any time in the past, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

You can contact our dedicated criminal defence lawyers in London, Birmingham, and Manchester by telephone on:

  • Brent & Camden London Office: 020 7624 7771
  • Manchester Office: 0161 835 1638
  • Birmingham Office: 0121 614 3333
  • City of London: 0207 624 7771 (our senior Solicitors and Partners can meet by appointment in the City)

Or email:

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

24/7 legal representation for historical sexual offence allegations

Please get in touch for a free initial consultation with one of our expert criminal defence solicitors, as well as immediate representation and advice on dealing with allegations of a historical sexual offence, or any other type of sexual offence.

We are available to represent clients all over England and Wales at any time, so please contact our Emergency Number: 07836 577 556.


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