“Sentences explained for Sexual crimes”

Full list of maximum sentences at the bottom of this page

Did you know ?

17,727 sexual crimes against children under 16 were recorded in England and Wales in 2010/2011

43 police forces in England and Wales recorded 23,097 child sex offences in 2011. That included rape, incest, child prostitution and pornography.

Just as worryingly, only 2,135 of offences reported — ten per cent — led to someone actually being convicted and sentenced. Thousands of paedos escape scot-free.

Figures show that 134 of the 984 rapists jailed in 2011 in England and Wales were given sentences of four years or less. One got less than 12 months.

Official figures in 2011 showed more than 200 paedophiles who admitted having sexual activity with children aged under 13 were cautioned by police.

The most recent figures showed less than half of those who admitted or were convicted of such offences were jailed

Legislation sets out broad powers and limits but within these it is up to the court to decide how they should be applied in each individual case. Within the limits of the legislation, judges and magistrates have discretion in sentencing.

Criminal Justice Act 2003

The current law relating to the sentencing of adult offenders is largely contained in the Criminal Justice Act 2003

(Please note this link takes you to the original version of the Act which has been amended over time.) The Act aimed to provide a clearer and more flexible sentencing framework and sets out:

  • the purposes of sentencing;

  • general sentencing principles including:provisions relating to different types of sentence and when they may be applied;

    • the reduction in sentence for a guilty plea;

    • the principles relating to previous convictions and offences committed on bail; and

    • statutory aggravating factors.

  • provisions relating to the sentencing of dangerous offenders; and

  • provisions relating to release.

Maximum sentences

Legislation sets out the maximum sentence for certain offences. This sets the most severe penalty a court can give for an offence and the maximum sentences vary according to the seriousness of the offence. For example:

  • the Theft Act 1968 sets a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment for the offence of theft;

  • the Road Traffic Act 1988 sets maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving.

For some offences, such as murder, robbery and certain sexual offences, legislation provides for a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Maximum penalties are intended to be imposed rarely and only in the most serious and extreme cases . For certain offences, legislation also sets a minimum sentence. In each case, the judge or magistrate must decide the appropriate sentence for the offence committed.

Types of sentence and court sentencing powers

Legislation sets out the different types of sentence available to a court and when they may be used including fines, community sentences and custodial sentences.

The maximum sentence that may be imposed in the magistrates’ court is six months imprisonment for a single offence (a year for two or more offences) and/or a fine of up to £5,000. In the Crown Court the maximum sentence that may be imposed is life (where the offence justifies such a sentence) and/or an unlimited fine.

  • When passing a sentence of life imprisonment, the judge should make clear what the determinate sentence would have been, and then fix the specified period.

  • The specified period of a life sentence should range from between one-half to two-thirds of the determinate term. The time that the offender has spent in remand should be deducted from the specified period.

  • One-half should be the normal proportion, less time spent in custody. But in some cases, more than one-half will be appropriate.

  • If a judge specifies a higher proportion than one-half, he or she should state the reasons for doing so.

  • A ‘whole life’ minimum term sentence can be imposed for the most dangerous offenders, meaning there is no minimum period which can properly be set in that case.

  • A life sentence average tariff is 14years equvalent to a 28yr sentence. However, depending on the age of the offender and mitigating circumstances it can be half that.

  • A 30yr minimum tariff is usually specified for serious offenders usually involving multiple murders .

  • Following their release, life sentence prisoners remain ‘on licence’ for the rest of their lives. This means that they are subject to supervision by the Probation Service, and may be recalled to custody at any time if the terms of the licence are breached.

    Types of sentence

    There are a number of different types of sentences available to the courts when sentencing an offender aged 18 or over. These include the most common types of sentences such as fines and more severe sentences for the most serious (and more rare) offences such as life sentences.

    The judge or magistrate will decide the appropriate type and length of sentence depending upon the facts of each individual case, referring to sentencing guidelines and the law.  

    Below is the maximum sentences that can be passed for each offence

    From the Law pages 

     

SERIOUS SEXUAL OFFENCES

Rape

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.1(1)

Life

Sexual intercourse with girl under 13

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.5

Life

Attempted sexual intercourse with girl under 13

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.5

7 years

Sexual intercourse with defective

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.7

Life

Incest by man with a girl under 13

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s. 10

Life

Buggery of person under 16

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.12

Open 

Indecency with children under 14

Indecency with Children Act 1960 s.1(1)

10 years

Taking, having etc. indecent photographs of children

Protection of Children Act 1978 s.1

10 years

Possession of indecent photograph of a child

Criminal Justice Act 1988 s.160

5 years

Assault with intent to commit buggery

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.16

10 years

Abduction of woman by force

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.17

14 years

Permitting girl under 13 to use premises for sexual intercourse

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.25

Life

Allowing or procuring child under 16 to go abroad to perform

Children and Young Persons Act 1933 ss.25, 26

Open 

Abduction of unmarried girl under 16 from parent

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.20

Life

Permitting girl under 16 to use premises for intercourse

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.26

Life

Causing or encouraging prostitution of girl under 16

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.28

Life

Rape

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 1

Life

Assault by penetration

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 2

Life

Sexual assault

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 3

10 years

Causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 4

10 years

Rape of child under 13

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 5

Life

Assault of child under 13 by penetration

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 6

Life

Sexual assault of child under 13

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 7

14 years

Causing a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 8

14 years

Sexual activity with a child

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 9

14 years

Causing a child to engage in sexual activity

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 10

14 years

Arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offence

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 14

14 years

Sexual activity with a child family member, with penetration (Offender over 18)

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 25

14 years

Sexual activity with a child family member, with penetration (Offender under 18)

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 25

5 years

Inciting a child family member to engage in sexual activity (Offender over 18)

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 26

14 years

Inciting a child family member to engage in sexual activity (Offender under 18)

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 26

5 years

Sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 30

14 years

Causing or inciting a person with a mental disorder to engage in sexual activity

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 31

14 years

Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a person with a mental disorder impeding choice

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 32

10 years

Causing a person with a mental disorder impeding choice to watch a sexual act

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 33

10 years

Inducement, threat or deception to procure sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 34

14 years

Inducing person with mental disorder to engage in sexual activity

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 35

14 years

Engaging in sexual activity in the presence, procured by inducement, threat or deception, of a person with a mental disorder

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 36

10 years

Causing a person with a mental disorder to watch a sexual act by inducement, threat or deception

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 37

10 years

Care workers: sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 38

10 years

Care workers: inciting person with mental disorder to engage in sexual act

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 39

10 years

Paying for sexual services – penetration – of a child under 13

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 47

Life

Paying for sexual services – penetration – of a child under 16

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 47

14 years

Causing or inciting child prostitution or pornography

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 48

14 years

Controlling a child prostitute

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 49

14 years

Facilitating child prostitution

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 50

14 years

Trafficking into UK for sexual exploitation

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 57

14 years

Trafficking within UK for sexual exploitation

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 58

14 years

Trafficking out of UK for sexual exploitation

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 59

14 years

SEXUAL OFFENCES AND OFFENCES AGAINST CHILDREN

Administering drugs to obtain intercourse

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.4

2 years

Procurement of a woman by threats

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.2

2 years

Procurement of a woman by false pretences

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.3

2 years

Attempted sexual intercourse with girl under 13

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.5

7 years

Procurement of a defective

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.9

2 years

Intercourse with a defective

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.7

2 years

Incest by man with a girl under 13

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.10

7 years

Incest by woman with a girl under 13

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.11

7 years

Attempted incest by man with a girl over 13

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.10

2 years

Gross indecency between male of 21 or over and male under 16

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.13

 

Indecent assault on a woman

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.14

10 years

Indecent assault on a man

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.15

10 years

Abuse of position of trust

Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 s.3

 

Man living on earnings of prostitution

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.30

7 years

Woman exercising control over prostitute

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.31

 

Living on earnings of male prostitution

Sexual Offences Act 1967 s.5

7 years

Inciting girl under 16 to have incestuous sexual intercourse

Criminal Law Act 1977 s.54

2 years

Ill-treatment of persons of unsound mind

Mental Health Act 1983 s.127

 

Abduction of unmarried girl under 18 from parent

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.19

2 years

Abduction of unmarried girl under 16 from parent

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.20

2 years

Abduction of defective from parent

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.21

2 years

Causing prostitution of women

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.22

2 years

Procuration of girl under 21

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.23

2 years

Detention of woman in brothel

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.24

2 years

Permitting girl under 16 to use premises for intercourse

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.26

2 years

Permitting defective to use premises for intercourse

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.27

2 years

Causing or encouraging prostitution of, intercourse with or indecent assault on girl under 16

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.28

2 years

Causing or encouraging prostitution of defective

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.29

2 years

Soliciting by men

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.32

2 years

Keeping a brothel

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s.33

6 months

Ill-treatment of patients

Mental Health Act 1983 s.127

2 years

Sexual intercourse with patients

Mental Health Act 1959 s.128

2 years

Sexual assault

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s.3

Life

Causing sexual activity without penetration

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 4

Life

Paying for sexual services – penetration of a child aged 16 or 17

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 47

7 years

Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 11

10 years

Causing a child to watch a sexual act

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 12

10 years

Child sex offence committed by person under 18

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 13

5 years

Meeting child following sexual grooming

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 15

10 years

Abuse of trust: sexual activity with a child

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 16

5 years

Abuse of position of trust: causing a child to engage in sexual activity

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 17

5 years

Abuse of trust: sexual activity in the presence of a child

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 18

5 years

Abuse of position of trust: causing a child to watch sexual activity

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 19

5 years

Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a person with a mental disorder

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 32

7 years

Causing a person with a mental disorder to watch a sexual act

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 33

7 years

Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a person with a mental disorder

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 36

7 years

Causing a person with a mental disorder to watch a sexual act

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 37

7 years

Care workers: sexual activity in presence of a person with a mental disorder

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 40

7 years

Care workers: causing a person with a mental disorder to watch a sexual act

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 41

7 years

Causing or inciting prostitution for gain

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 52

7 years

Controlling prostitution for gain

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 53

7 years

Administering a substance with intent

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 61

10 years

Committing offence with intent to commit sexual offence

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 62

10 years

Trespass with intent to commit sexual offence

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 63

10 years

Sex with adult relative: penetration

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 64

2 years

Sex with adult relative: consenting to penetration

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s.65

2 years

Exposure

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 66

2 years

Voyeurism

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 67

2 years

Intercourse with an animal

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 69

2 years

Sexual penetration of a corpse

Sexual Offences Act 2003 s. 70

2 years

Creulty to children

s1 Children & Young Persons Act 1933

10 years