Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017

17.

Sexual act with child under 17 years of age

17. The Act of 2006 is amended by the substitution of the following section for section 3:

“3. (1) A person who engages in a sexual act with a child who is under the age of 17 years shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction on indictment—

(a) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years, or

(b) if he or she is a person in authority, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 years.

(2) A person who attempts to engage in a sexual act with a child who is under the age of 17 years shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction on indictment—

(a) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years, or

(b) if he or she is a person in authority, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 years.

(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 17 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 17 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 17 years shall be that applicable to civil proceedings.

(6) Subject to subsection (8), 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.

(7) No proceedings for an offence under this section against a child under the age of 17 years shall be brought except by, or with the consent of, the Director of Public Prosecutions.

(8) Where, in proceedings for an offence under this section against a child who at the time of the alleged commission of the offence had attained the age of 15 years but was under the age of 17 years, it shall be a defence that the child consented to the sexual act of which the offence consisted where the defendant—

(a) is younger or less than 2 years older than the child,

(b) was not, at the time of the alleged commission of the offence, a person in authority in respect of the child, and

(c) was not, at the time of the alleged commission of the offence, in a relationship with the child that was intimidatory or exploitative of the child.”.