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Grooming And Offences under the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)

Updated: Apr 16



Is There An Offence For Grooming For Sexual Conduct?


Section 49M of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) creates the offence of Grooming for sexual conduct with a child under the age of 16.


Is Grooming for Sexual Conduct an Indictable or Summary Offence in Victoria?


The offence of Grooming for sexual conduct with a child under the age of 16 is an indictable offence.


What Is The Offence of Grooming for Sexual Conduct? What must the prosecution prove?


Section 49M contains a number of elements that the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt. Namely:


  • The accused is 18 years of age or more; and

  • The accused communicates, by words or conduct (whether or not a response is made to the communication, with:

  • Another person (B) who is a child under the age of 16 years; or

  • Another person (C) under whose care, supervision or authority B is; and

  • The accused intends that the communication facilitate B engaging or being involved in the commission of a sexual offence by the accused or another person

Key definitions under Section 49M


'conduct'


Conduct for the purposes of section 49M means 'an act or omission to do an act'.


'communication'


Under section 49M(7) communication includes 'an electronic communication within the meaning of the Electronic Transactions Act 2000 (Vic).


'sexual offence'


Under section 49M(&), 'sexual offence' means:


(a) an offence against a provision of Subdivision (8A), this subdivision (other than section 49K(1) or this section), (8C), (8D), (8E), (8F) or (8FA); or

(b) an attempt to commit an offence covered by paragraph (a); or

(c) an assault with intent to commit an offence referred to in paragraphs (a)


How serious is the charge of Grooming for Sexual Conduct with a Child Under the Age of 16


Grooming for sexual conduct is a very serious indictable offence, and a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment applies.


What Court Can Hear and Determine the Offence of Grooming for Sexual Conduct with a Child Under 16?


The offence cannot be heard in the Magistrates' Court and must be determined in the County Court (refer to Part 3.1 and Schedule 2 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2008 (Vic)).


What are the court events for an allegation of Grooming a child under 16 in the County Court?


  • Filing hearing (Magistrates' Court)

  • Committal mention (Magistrates' Court)

  • Contested committal (Magistrates' Court)

  • First and subsequent Directions hearings (County Court)

  • Trial (by jury or Judge alone). If at the conclusion of the trial an accused successfully defends the offence he or she will be acquitted. Conversely, if found guilty by jury or by a Judge (Judge alone trial) the Judge will impose a sentence.


Can Grooming for Sexual Conduct with a Child under 16 result in a Sex Offenders Registration Order?


The offence is a class 2 (schedule 2 of the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 (Vic)), and consequently, upon a finding of guilt, a mandatory order for registration will be made. Depending upon the circumstances of the case, the reporting period may be 8 years, 15 years or life reporting.


What Defences might apply?


The facts of any allegation of Grooming for sexual conduct will differ. An accused may argue:


  • Factual dispute (alleged conduct or communication is denied)

  • Failure to establish the required intent to commit the offence.


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