A sexual assault charge has the potential to change your life.

It carries with it the potential of a criminal record, a tough imprisonment penalty of up to 14 years, and can have an irreversible impact on your personal and professional relationships.

For the prosecution to be successful in a sexual assault charge they must first prove that a defendant engaged in sexual intercourse with a victim. Prosecutors do not have to prove the intercourse was for gratification, or that full ejaculation or penetration occurred. Intercourse in this regard also includes penetration using other objects and instances of oral sex.

Secondly, the prosecution must prove the sexual intercourse occurred without the victim’s consent, which could be given either verbally or by their actions. This is a complex area because in many situations the law recognises that consent simply cannot be given. Just a few examples include situations in which the victim was too young to give consent, mentally impaired, asleep or intoxicated.

Finally, the prosecution must prove the defendant knew that the victim did not consent, or was reckless as getting consent, or did not have reasonable grounds for believing that consent was given. In this final element, the court will consider many factors including a defendant’s state of mind. If the prosecution cannot prove the third element, the sexual assault charge can be entirely dismissed. However, if a defendant is found guilty of sexual assault, the ramifications are serious and could likely include years of non-parole imprisonment.

It is vital you choose an experienced lawyer to protect your freedoms and future by assessing how to best defend a sexual assault charge.