Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017

16.

Sexual act with child under 15 years of age

16. The Act of 2006 is amended by the substitution of the following section for section 2:

“2. (1) A person who engages in a sexual act with a child who is under the age of 15 years shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life or a lesser term of imprisonment.

(2) A person who attempts to engage in a sexual act with a child who is under the age of 15 years shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life or a lesser term of imprisonment.

(3) It shall be a defence to proceedings for an offence under this section for the defendant to prove that he or she was reasonably mistaken that, at the time of the alleged commission of the offence, the child against whom the offence is alleged to have been committed had attained the age of 15 years.

(4) Where, in proceedings for an offence under this section, it falls to the court to consider whether the defendant was reasonably mistaken that, at the time of the alleged commission of the offence, the child against whom the offence is alleged to have been committed had attained the age of 15 years, the court shall consider whether, in all the circumstances of the case, a reasonable person would have concluded that the child had attained the said age.

(5) The standard of proof required to prove that the defendant was reasonably mistaken that the child had attained the age of 15 years shall be that applicable to civil proceedings.

(6) It shall not be a defence to proceedings for an offence under this section for the defendant to prove that the child against whom the offence is alleged to have been committed consented to the sexual act of which the offence consisted.”.