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How to get sexual assault charges dropped – Crime


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Following the withdrawal of all charges against Bruce Lehrmann,
the question of how to get sexual assault charges dropped has been
the subject of much conjecture.

The repercussions for anyone found guilty of a sexual assault
offence are devastating to both their reputation and livelihood.
Indeed, Mr Lehrmann suffered significant damage to his reputation
despite only being charged and not being found guilty.

The legal process can be traumatic and intimidating. But having
an experienced
criminal defence lawyer for sexual assault
charges in your
corner can allow you to get charges withdrawn early.

How to get sexual assault charges dropped

You can get sexual assault charges dropped by:

  1. Obtaining evidence to support your defence (eg. Text messages,
    phone records, CCTV footage);

  2. Interviewing and preparing statements from potential

  3. Briefing defence experts if required (eg. DNA, medical experts,

  4. Drafting representations to DPP and/or police for the
    withdrawal of the charges.

The above steps are a tried and tested formula that have
resulted in dozens of these charges being withdrawn and/or
dismissed in just the last few years. You can view some of those
cases by clicking here.

The most crucial aspect to defending any sexual assault is
obtaining evidence that can cast doubt on the allegation.

This will involve analysing the statement of the complainant to
find assertions that can be proven to be untrue. Most commonly,
this is done through text messages and CCTV footage.

Often a complainant will allege that sexual activity was not
consensual. However, text messages between yourself and the
complainant before and after the allegation can paint a starkly
different picture.

CCTV footage may also be inconsistent with the complainant’s
account. In some circumstances it may even provide an alibi for
you. If police have not obtained this footage, an experienced
criminal defence lawyer will be able to subpoena the footage so
that it is not lost or destroyed.

Witness statements are often also essential to a successful
sexual assault defence. Similar to CCTV footage, witness accounts
may contradict the complainant’s version of events. This can
provide an objective account which can support your defence.

Defence experts can also be crucial in establishing reasonable
doubt. A common example is DNA experts being able to cast doubt on
a Crown expert’s opinion. Often, a person’s DNA may be
found on a location that you did not touch. This may be explained
by secondary DNA transfer which a defence expert can give evidence

Finally, once sufficient evidence has been obtained, legal
representations can be drafted for the withdrawal of the charges.
This involves an analysis of the evidence against previous cases
and legislation to explain why the prosecution will not succeed.
This is then sent to the DPP and/or police. Representations are
also known as a ‘no bill application’.

It generally takes the prosecution 6 weeks to consider
representations. If they are successful, then the charges will be
withdrawn and the matter dismissed. This can save significant time,
expense and the stress associated with having these charges hanging
over your head.

You can view some recent cases where sexual assault charges have
been dropped and dismissed by clicking

Sexual assault and consent

Consent is a legal defence for sexual assault offences.

Section 61HI of the Crimes Act 1900
sets out
the definition of consent for sexual offences: “A person
consents to sexual activity if they freely and voluntarily agree to
the sexual activity.”

Other than proving simply that a person did not agree, some
other grounds on which it can be established that a person does not
consent to sexual contact include:

  • The person does not say or do anything to communicate consent;

  • The alleged victim was substantially intoxicated by drugs or
    alcohol; or,

  • The consent was elicited through intimidation, coercion, or
    threats of force; or,

  • The consent was elicited through abuse of a position of
    authority or trust.

A person cannot consent to sexual contact if:

  • They do not have capacity to consent because of their age (ie.
    Under 16 years of age or under 18 years of age if a ‘special
    care relationship’) or cognitive incapacity;

  • They are asleep or unconscious;

  • They have consented because of threats or they are unlawfully

A person has “knowledge” about lack of consent to the
sexual contact if:

  • The person knows the alleged victim does not consent; or,

  • The person is reckless as to whether the alleged victim
    consents; or,

  • The person did not, within a reasonable time before or at the
    time of the sexual activity, say or do anything to find out whether
    the other person consents to the sexual activity.

Importantly, a court will take into account all of the
circumstances, including any steps you took to determine whether
the alleged victim consented. This reflects recent amendments
affirmative consent in NSW

Consent is a very complex area of law. The stakes for sexual
offences are extremely high – if you are found guilty there
is a strong chance you will receive a jail sentence.

Our specialist sexual assault lawyers understand the stigma that
comes with such allegations and the impact it can have on your
employment and family life. It is crucial to speak to an accredited
specialist in criminal law early. We are regularly able to
negotiate with Police and the DPP to have the charges

Types of sexual assault

There are a number of different types of sexual assault,


The following are defences to a sexual assault charge:

  1. Intercourse cannot be proved. We often use our medical and DNA
    experts to cast doubt on whether sexual intercourse occurred;

  2. Consent: We can argue that the alleged victim consented to the
    sexual intercourse. There are however some situations where this
    cannot be used as a defence (most commonly where the alleged victim
    was too intoxicated to consent).

  3. Honest and reasonable mistake: You held an honest and
    reasonable belief that the alleged victim was consenting. This
    defence has arguably become obsolete given the affirmative consent
    laws now in place.

  4. Identification: The Crown cannot establish that you were the
    perpetrator. We have a number of experts (such as DNA, fingerprint,
    CCTV and intoxication experts) who are able to cast doubt on
    identification in certain situations;

  5. Automatism: This is where the offending was involuntary. This
    can sometimes involve sleep disorders.

  6. Duress: You were forced to commit the offence

  7. Necessity: the commission of the offence was necessary in the

  8. There was a proper medical purpose for the sexual

Punishment for Sexual Assault

The maximum punishment for sexual assault in NSW is 14 years

There is also a standard non-parole period of 7 years
imprisonment. This means that the starting point for the time you
will serve in prison is 7 years.

Experienced sexual assault lawyers

Facing sexual assault allegations can be traumatic and costly.
Without experienced criminal defence lawyers who have experience in
dealing with police and the criminal justice system, you can find
yourself in custody.
Contact us now
to speak to our friendly team.

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