In 2018 a new offence was created in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) of Concealing child abuse offence under Section 316A. This Section provides:
(a)Who knows, believes or reasonably ought to know that a child abuse offence has been committed against another person, and
(b)who knows, believes or reasonably ought to know that he or she has information that might be of material assistance in securing the apprehension of the offender or the prosecution or conviction to the offender for that offence, and
(c)Who fails without reasonable excuse to bring that information to the attention of a member of the NSW Police Force as soon as it is practicable to do so,
Is guilty of an offence.
Concealing child abuse offence is an offence under Division 2 (Interference with the Administration of Justice) of Part 7 (Public Justice Offences) of the Crimes Act.
Penalties for concealing a child abuse offence
The penalty for failing to report a child abuse offence or relevant information depends on the relevant child abuse offence. If the offence to which the information relates carries a penalty of less than 5 years in prison, then the maximum penalty for failing to report that information is 2 years imprisonment. If the offence to which the information relates carries a penalty of more than 5 years imprisonment, then the maximum penalty for failing to report that information is 5 years imprisonment.
In other words, if you fail to report a less serious child abuse offence, then you face up to 2 years imprisonment. If you fail to report a more serious child abuse offence, then you face up to 5 years imprisonment. Nevertheless, all alleged offences against children are very serious and if you believe an offence may have been committed against a child, it is advisable to report that to the police as soon as possible.
Child abuse is defined broadly under this section and in the Crimes Act and includes a range of offences:
- Conspiring to commit murder
- Attempt at murder
- choking, suffocation, strangulation
- failing to provide necessities of life
- female genital mutilation
- Assault occasioning actual bodily harm
- Any offence under Division 10 (Sexual offences against (adults) and children)
- Any offence under Division 10B (Incitement to commit sexual offence)
- Any offence under Division 15 (Child Prostitution)
If you have been charged with concealing child abuse you should speak with a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. If you are found guilty and convicted of concealing child abuse, this will have a huge impact on your ability to find employment, the types of employment you will be able to undertake and your ability to travel to certain countries.
A criminal defence lawyer can properly defend you to ensure due process is observed. This may include:
- having the charge(s) dropped altogether due to insufficient evidence
- having the charge(s) downgraded to less serious charge(s)
- pleading not guilty and arguing your case in court
- pleading guilty and negotiating for a lenient sentence
- If you are found guilty, arguing for a Section 10 (no conviction recorded)
There are a number of defences which may be raised if you are charged with concealing child abuse. These include (but are not limited to):
- That you believed on reasonable grounds that the information which you failed to report was already known to police, or
- That you had reasonable grounds to fear for the safety of the person or any other person (other than the offender) if the information were to be reported to police or
- You were under the age of 18 when you learned of the information
- The alleged victim was an adult at the time that you learned of the information and you believed on reasonable grounds that the alleged victim did not wish the information to be reported to police
Child abuse is an extremely serious offence and if a person is found guilty of child abuse there is a high chance they will be imprisoned. Concealing child abuse is also an extremely serious offence and if you are found guilty of concealing child abuse, you may be sent to prison for up to 5 years.
If you have been charged with an offence or even think you may be charged, you should contact a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. George Sten & Co are experts in all areas of criminal law and have decades of experience in defending people charged with criminal offences and ensuring the best possible outcome is achieved.
For more information call George Sten & Co Criminal Lawyers on (02) 9261 8640 or 0412423 569 outside of business hours.