Possessing or Distributing Child Abuse Material and Child Exploitation Material is a serious crime. It is a "technology enabled" crime and a high priority area for law enforcement. There has been exponential growth in the number of prosecutions for these offences over the last decade.
Queensland has an extremely broad definition of "child pornography material". It is defined under the Criminal Code as "material that, in a way likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, describes or depicts a person, or a representation of a person, who is, or apparently is, a child under 16 years:
- in a sexual context, including for example, engaging in sexual activity; or
- in an offensive or demeaning context; or
- being subjected to abuse, cruelty or torture".
"Material" includes videos, photographs, drawings, words, stories, and cartoons. The persons depicted may be real or fictional.
Under Queensland law, a "child" is a person under 16 years of age. Under Commonwealth law, a "child" is a person under 18 years of age.
In Queensland, imprisonment is not a penalty of "last resort" for Child Exploitation Material offences. Rather, the Penalties & Sentences Act states that an accused person must serve a sentence of actual imprisonment unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Defending child exploitation material charges is a stressful process. Due to the nature of the accusation, it is often difficult for accused persons to reveal their legal situation to friends and family members. In addition, as most cases involve forensic evidence, there may be significant delays by the police in providing the brief of evidence to the defence.
Possible defences to the charge include that:
- an accused person did not knowingly possess Child Exploitation Material;
- the images in question do not meet the definition of Child Exploitation Material;
- the images were created or distributed for legitimate artistic or scientific purposes.
Rebecca Fogerty and Julia Jasper have significant experience representing persons charged with Child Exploitation Material offences. We offer comprehensive, tireless and non-judgemental advice about your legal rights and the best strategy for your case. Where necessary, we work closely with other experts, including forensic technology professionals, psychiatrists, clinicians and barristers to secure the best outcome in the circumstances of your case.
You can read more about sexual offences in Queensland here.