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Act of Indecency

An act of indecency is an offense that is sexual in nature committed by a person without any touching or penetration involved. It is also committed by enticing or inducing another person to commit acts that are considered to be an act of indecency.

The test if an act is indecent is if it is offensive to public morals and proper conduct or behavior in public.

Legal basis
Section 61N of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) penalizes the commission of an act of indecency.  The law provides that:

  • a person who commits an act of indecency with or towards a person who is under the age of 16 years, or incites a person who is under the age of 16 years to an act of indecency with or towards that or another person is liable to incarceration for 2 years.
  • Anyone who commits an act of indecency with or towards a person who is 16 years of age or above, or incites a person under 16 years old to an act of indecency with or towards that or another person, is liable to imprisonment for 18 months.

From the preceding, it is evident that the penalty depends on the age of the victim. A heavier penalty is meted out if the victim is below 16 years of age.

Examples of acts of indecency

  • Exhibitionism or the act of exposing in public one’s genitals;
  • Sending naked or lewd photographs to another person;
  • Masturbating in public

Prosecuting acts of indecency

  • In prosecuting a person for acts of indecency, the police, and the prosecutor will prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:
  • the accused performed an act that was indecent or incited another person to do the indecent act;
  • the indecent act was done towards another person;
  • That the person with whom or towards whom the indecent act was committed is below 16 years of age; or, if 16 years of age and above the act was done without consent.

A charge for an act of indecency is finalized in the Local Court except if the prosecutor would opt to finalize the case in the District Court.

Defending yourself against a charge for an act of indecency

Different defense strategies may be adopted by a person accused of an act of indecency. An accused may allege lack or absence of some or all of the elements of the crime. So, the accused may prove in court that:

  • the act suspected to be indecent was not committed, hence, a denial of the charge;
  • the act committed was not indecent;
  • the act committed was not done or directed towards another person.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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