sexual activity with a child

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It is a specific criminal offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to engage in sexual activity with a child under the age of 16. Consent is irrelevant to determining whether the offence has been committed. A person (A) over the age of 18 commits the offence if he intentionally touches another person (B), where the touching is sexual, B is under the age of 16, and A does not reasonably believe that B is over 16. If B is under the age of 13 the defendant is liable to a charge of sexual assault of a child under 13 and the question of his mistaken belief in B's age becomes irrelevant. The maximum penalty varies according to the touching involved, ranging from 6 months' imprisonment and a fine to 14 years' imprisonment. The victim cannot be convicted as an accessory to this offence, even if the offence takes place with the victim's voluntary assistance, since the offence is designed to protect the victim (R v Tyrrell (1894) 1 QB 710 (CCR). Compare assault of a child under 13 by penetration; rape of a child under 13.

Subjects: Law.

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