Old Bailey Solicitors

Online Grooming Offences

What is online grooming?

Child abuse that is sexual can take many forms. The term ‘child grooming’ is used where a person or group of people build a relationship with a child for the purposes of manipulating, exploiting or abusing them. Online grooming occurs when an adult either meets or communicates with a child under the age of 16 online, in order to engage in sexual activity or to arrange for others to engage in sexual activity with that child.

  • Examples of online grooming:
  • Engaging in sexual conversations online or by text messages
  • Sending nude images of yourself, sometimes called sexting
  • Sending sexual videos of yourself
  • Sexual activity recorded or live on webcam
  • Meeting up in person

Grooming children online can include forming an emotional connection for sexual purposes and often leads to the adult requesting indecent images or arranging to meet the child in person.

Online grooming

Grooming offences are very serious. If you have been accused of a grooming sexual offence, it can be a very stressful experience, with the potential consequences being very severe. Our experienced defence lawyers can provide you with expert legal advice and representation if you have been accused of a grooming offence or other sexual offences. We will safeguard your legal rights and ensure that you are represented by a very experienced legal team. For expert advice from our specialist criminal defence solicitors who specialise in sexual offences, please contact us.

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Our team of criminal defence specialists achieve the best possible outcome for our clients.

How can we help?

If you have been accused of a sexual grooming offence or another form of child sexual exploitation, then it is important that you contact us immediately. Our team are here to listen to your side of the case, to talk you through the process, and to put together a defence that will be in your best interests.

For more information about how Old Bailey Solicitors can assist you, please get in touch today to arrange an initial consultation.

Penalties for online grooming offences

The exact penalties for a child online grooming offence will depend on the nature of the offence and the circumstances surrounding the offence. Sentencing guidelines indicate this form of child abuse should be judged by weighing the culpability of the accused and the harm caused to the victim to determine the appropriate sentence for online grooming. For less serious cases where no harm was ultimately committed, a community order (community service) may be deemed suitable, but usually, there will be some form of prison sentence that could be as high as 10 years.

Where the offence was committed in conjunction with other offences or previous convictions, especially ones as serious as rape and sexual assault the combined sentence may be up to life imprisonment.

The following are the maximum sentence on conviction for some of the main types of criminal offences associated with child online grooming:

  • Sexual communication with a child – 2 years imprisonment
  • Causing a child to watch a sexual act – 10 years imprisonment
  • Meeting a child following sexual grooming – 10 years’ imprisonment
  • Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity – 14 years’ imprisonment
  • Causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity – 14 years’ imprisonment

What to do if you are accused of online grooming in the UK

If you are accused of online grooming it is crucial that you are represented by a specialist solicitor who is an expert in this serious area of law. The consequences of being charged with sexual offences such as online grooming and child sexual abuse are life-changing, with a term of imprisonment highly likely. You also face the prospect of an addition to the Sex Offenders’ Register and risk receiving a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO).

At Old Bailey Solicitors we have specialist experience in defending clients accused of online grooming and other sexual offences. Our experienced solicitors will guide and support you at all stages of the criminal justice system, from arrest and police interview, through any criminal investigation, to hearings at the Magistrates or Crown Court.



The Sexual Offenders Register

Anyone convicted of a sexual offence is added to the sex offenders register and is required to notify the police of certain details, either for an agreed amount of time or for life. A failure to comply with the terms of the register is a serious criminal offence for which the individual will be prosecuted, with the risk of receiving a prison sentence.

An SHPO is imposed either when an offender is being sentenced or following a complaint made about a person previously convicted or cautioned of a sexual offence where their behaviour suggests they are an immediate risk, and it is deemed necessary to prevent this. The terms of an SHPO may include forbidding the offender to be in the presence of any young person, or child and commonly includes terms prohibiting the offender from accessing the internet or social media. SHPO conditions are monitored and enforced by local police forces.

A conviction for a sexual grooming offence will result in an automatic requirement to register with the police under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Our solicitors will advocate on your behalf to ensure you have the best chance at avoiding a conviction.

Sexual Harm Prevention Order

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) is an order imposed by a Magistrate or Crown Court on an individual who is considered to pose a risk of sexual harm to either the general public or a certain group of people or individual persons.

The SHPO is a court order that can be requested by the police, normally following a previous conviction or caution for offences. This includes a range of offences including online grooming. The restrictions imposed can include travel bans, prevention of certain types of employment and limited internet use. The SHPO lasts for at least five years and can be mentioned in future criminal proceedings indefinitely.

If you breach any regulations set out in the SHPO, you will face a separate penalty and risk a term of imprisonment. If you have been convicted of such an offence at a Magistrates’ court, you will be liable for up to six months imprisonment, a fine or both. If you have been convicted on indictment in a crown court, you will be liable for up to five years imprisonment.

Old Bailey Solicitors have been exceptional in handling my case and making it as worry free as possible for me. Old Bailey Solicitors assisted me through every step of my case and went above and beyond expectations to achieve an outcome in the Crown Court which avoided a custodial sentence, for this I am very grateful.

Case dropped

What do I do if I have been accused of a Sexual Offence?Read more

Sexual offence cases are more emotive and personal than any other type of allegation. We promise to handle your case sensitively, confidentially and pro-actively. We will never pre-judge you and we will assess the case against you, help you to gather the evidence to support your case and provide you with clear and honest advice. Old Bailey Solicitors have significant experience in successfully defending allegations of sexual offences and will fight your corner from the very first stages of the investigation.

Some cases will involve a simple factual dispute whilst others will require expert evidence: whether computer evidence in an internet pornography case, psychological evidence in an allegation of childhood abuse, or straightforward forensic evidence in a stranger rape case. We will look to challenge the prosecution case in accordance with your instructions.

Old Bailey Solicitors have enjoyed notable successes on behalf of clients facing serious sexual allegations in recent years. Rod Hayler has saved many of his clients from prison where lengthy sentences seemed inevitable. We have also enjoyed a significant run of acquittals on behalf of clients falsely accused of rape or other sexual assaults. As one of our specialist, in-house trial advocates, Brian Aldred has secured against-the-odds acquittals in a number of difficult and tense rape cases.

We know that a conviction for a sexual offence can have life-changing consequences for our clients and that even the most minor of allegations can result in stigma or a client being forced from their home. Social Services may become involved in cases where children are at home and, if convicted, the Sex Offenders’ Register will become relevant, sometimes for life. Also, the court will consider imposing a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) which may have a dramatic impact on a client’s ability to access the internet and to associate with certain members of their family. At all stages, we look to safeguard your interests and to defend your case robustly.

Contact one of our specialist team by giving us a call or emailing [email protected].

What do I do if I have been accused of Rape?Read more

At Old Bailey Solicitors we understand that rape cases are very rarely straightforward. The vast majority of allegations are made by a complainant who is known to the accused. Many cases involve married couples or people in long-term relationships. Others involve people who have only just met or historic allegations of incidents years ago.

If you have been accused of rape, specialist legal advice is essential at an early stage in the case. Old Bailey Solicitors will not shy away from asking difficult, and sometimes, uncomfortable questions. We know that it is your life and future on the line and we will defend your case vigorously.

Your case will be handled by one of our senior lawyers and we will instruct a trial advocate with a proven track record of experience and success in cases of this nature.  We understand that chances cannot be taken when you’re facing this kind of allegation which is why we aim to get it right the first time.

For specialist advice and assistance about allegations of rape, without delay, email us at [email protected].

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