Sexual offences cases are among the most sensitive and complex matters handled by the legal system in Ireland. These cases involve serious allegations that can have severe consequences for the accused. In Ireland, as in many jurisdictions, defendants in sexual offences cases have the right to present a defence. This article provides an overview of the defences available to individuals facing sexual offences charges in Ireland.
Understanding Your Rights
When accused of a sexual offence, such as rape, sexual assault or a sexual offence involving a child, it is crucial to remember that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The Irish legal system upholds certain fundamental rights for all individuals facing criminal charges, including sexual offences. Some key rights to be aware of include:
- Presumption of Innocence: You are considered innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution, who must establish your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Right to Legal Representation: You have the right to obtain legal advice and representation. Daniel Kreith & Company Solicitors, can guide you through the legal process, ensuring your rights are protected.
- Right to a Fair Trial: You are entitled to a fair and impartial trial. This includes the right to cross-examine witnesses and present evidence in your defence.
Understand the Types of Defence Available
Consent: One of the primary defences in sexual offences cases is consent. The law in Ireland recognises that sexual activity must be consensual to avoid criminal liability.
Consent must be freely given by a person who has the capacity to give consent and has not been coerced or deceived. It is important to note that consent can be withdrawn at any time, even during the course of a sexual encounter. If the defendant can demonstrate that the complainant consented to the sexual activity, it is a defence. However, it is crucial to establish that consent was genuine and not obtained through force, threats, intimidation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If the alleged sexual activity was consensual and both parties willingly participated, such as text messages or witnesses, showing that you and the other party clearly communicated willingness to engage in the sexual activity. This can form a strong defence. Our legal team will investigate and present evidence to establish that consent was given freely and knowingly. (1)
Honest Belief: Another defence that can be raised in sexual offences cases is a reasonable belief in consent. If the accused can demonstrate that they had a genuine and reasonable belief that the complainant consented to the sexual activity, it may be a valid defence. The reasonableness of the belief is determined by considering the circumstances surrounding the incident and the actions and statements of both parties involved. Where the alleged victim’s actions or body language reasonably led you to believe that they were consenting, it can be argued that you held an honest belief in their consent. We will help gather evidence to support your belief and challenge the prosecution’s case. (2)
Identity: The defence may also challenge the identity of the accused as the perpetrator of the alleged sexual offence. Mistaken identity can be raised as a defence if the defendant can provide evidence that they were misidentified or have an alibi to support their claim.
In some cases, mistaken identity can be a viable defence. If there is reasonable doubt as to whether you were the person involved in the alleged offence, we will work to gather evidence to support your claim.
Alibi: If you have a credible alibi that places you somewhere else during the time of the alleged offence, it can be a powerful defence. Our legal team will investigate and present evidence to establish your presence at a different location, creating doubt about your involvement in the alleged offence.
Mistake of Age: It is very important to understand that the legal age of consent in Ireland is 17, however, if you reasonably believed that the other person was of legal age, the defence of mistake of age can be raised. Your legal team will explore the evidence and present arguments to support your belief that the other party was of legal age.
Additionally, in some instances, false allegations may be made in sexual offences cases. The defence can argue that the complainant has made false statements with the intention to harm the accused or for personal gain. However, it is important to note that false allegations are relatively rare and should not be assumed without evidence.
Being accused and charged with a sexual offence can be an overwhelming and distressing experience. However, it is crucial to remember that you have rights and legal options available to you. At Daniel Kreith & Company Solicitors, we specialise in providing quality legal representation for individuals facing sexual offences charges in Ireland. Our experienced team is dedicated to protecting your rights, building a robust defence strategy, and guiding you through the legal process. If you find yourself in this challenging situation, contact our law firm today for expert legal assistance and support. Remember, the earlier you seek legal advice, the stronger your defence can be.