Personal Life

Historic Offences Against Children

We can help.  Historic allegations of sexual offending usually relate to events that happened many years before.  There is no time limit to bringing a criminal case and there are examples of cases dealing with allegations going back over 50 years. Many allegations arise from within family, friends or neighbours, but we also see allegations from a place of work or residence, and for those in a public role.  If you face an historic allegation, the consequences for your personal or professional life can be significant, even if the allegations are unfounded.

Historic allegations are typically particularly difficult to investigate and prosecute.  Memories fade, witnesses are lost, details become vague.  Records might be lost or incomplete, and answering an allegation when you don't know when or where it is meant to have happened can feel desperately unfair.  Even the law might be old, and historic allegations might arise under the Sexual Offences Act 1956 or Indecency with Children Act 1960, instead of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Motives for making false allegations of sexual assault are complex.  Some false allegations might be malicious, or knowingly false, for reasons of revenge, family politics or relationship breakdown.  Some false allegations might be misapprehended, in that the complainant believes they are telling the truth although the reality is otherwise. A victim might have misidentified the offender, or have retrospectively re-imagined events, perhaps tainted by subsequent influences.  A complainant might honestly claim an absence of consent even though there was reasonable belief in consent.

False Memory Syndrome describes a condition in which a person's identity and relationships are affected by memories that are factually incorrect but that they strongly believe.  Although not recognized as a psychiatric illness, the principle that memories can be altered by outside influences is widely accepted.  Repressed Memory and Recovered Memory Therapy are considered by some to be prone to creating confabulations.  These issues are not uncommon in historic allegations of sexual abuse, even if legally and evidentially the position is usually complicated.  A person who believes they are the victim of a traumatic event such as sexual abuse may make a compelling witness, because they believe the truth of their memory.  That creates a real challenge for you if you are the alleged perpetrator, and can merely deny that what is being said is true.  The answer lies in expert representation, willing and able to delve through the falsity to uncover the truth.

If you face a police interview or investigation, or if you have to go to court, then you should urgently seek expert legal advice.  Early intervention can often make a significant difference.  If you have not yet received legal advice or if you have had the duty solicitor and you want ongoing expert assistance, support and representation then contact us now.

For confidential and impartial advice call 01225 485700 or email confidential@mowbraywoodwards.co.uk

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