This is a broad term incorporating a number of criminal offences. A child may be abused or neglected by somebody inflicting harm upon them or by failing to act to prevent harm. A child is considered to be someone under the age of 18.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 covers offences such as: the trafficking of children for the purposes of sexual exploitation and the abuse of children through prostitution or pornography. Similarly, section 160(1) Criminal Justice Act 1988 makes it an offence for someone to possess an indecent photograph of a child. If someone commits a grossly indecent act with or towards a child under 16 (or incites them to do so) then they may face up to ten years’ imprisonment.
The term ‘child abuse’ also includes statutory and common-law offences of assault, abduction, kidnapping, cruelty and neglect. Under Section 1 Children and Young Persons Act 1933, cruelty, neglect or violence towards a child is punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonment; and a conviction for assault under Offences Against the Person Act 1861 carries a term of up to five years’ imprisonment.
The offence of conspiracy is covered by the Criminal Law Act 1977, which provides that if a person agrees with any other person(s) that they will pursue a course of conduct which they intend to result in the commission of an offence, they are guilty of conspiracy to commit that offence. The penalty imposed would be the same as it would be if the offence(s) that the defendant(s) conspired to commit were actually committed. There is also a common-law offence of conspiracy to defraud, which is punishable by either imprisonment of up to ten years or a fine or both.
The term cyber crime encompasses criminal activities committed with the use of a computer and electronic communications media. This includes fraud and identity theft, harassment and pornography. The Fraud Act 2006 covers some cyber crime, provided the offences were committed online or involved the use of online resources to facilitate fraud. ‘Offences against the Person’ are committed if a computer is used to cause an individual anxiety, distress or physiological harm. Cyber crime also covers sexual conduct including paedophilic activity facilitated by the use of a computer and the internet.
This term incorporates a number of Public Order offences in the UK covered by the Public Order Act 1986, including:
• Riot: requires 12 or more people and is punishable by up to either ten years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both;
• Violent disorder: only requires three or more people, which differentiates it from riot;
• Affray: this is triable either way, punishable by three years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine on indictment, or six months’ imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding the statutory limit on summary conviction;
Disorderly conduct also includes drunk and disorderly behaviour, contrary to the Criminal Justice Act 1967. A pattern of disorderly conduct may lead to the imposition of an anti-social behaviour order.
Disturbing the peace
This is generally used to describe actions that unsettle the proper order in a public place. This includes harm that has been caused, or is likely to be caused to a person or his property through an assault or some other form of disturbance. It is not punishable by imprisonment or a fine; however, police do have the power to arrest anyone who they have reasonable grounds for believing may be committing, or about to commit, a breach of the peace.
Embezzlement is committed when a person in a position of trust dishonestly appropriates (steals) assets from the person or company who has entrusted them with such assets. A common example would be if an employee steals from his employer or if a lawyer embezzles funds from clients. These charges are often brought under the Fraud Act 2006 or the Theft Act 1968 and, if convicted, often involve a custodial sentence.
Extortion involves using threats of physical harm to unlawfully obtain money, property or services from another person or institution. The seriousness of the crime can vary widely and is often practiced by organised crime groups. It is punishable by a maximum term of 14 years’ imprisonment.
Harassment is a criminal offence and can have serious consequences for anybody convicted of harassing. It was formally made a criminal offence in 1997 but it is most commonly used during civil proceedings as it enables a claimant to get an injunction or non-molestation order against the defendant, which may prevent them from coming within a certain distance of the claimant.
In order to prove harassment the harassing conduct or behaviour must have happened on at least two occasions; this is on the basis that if an event only happens once it cannot be harassment because the behaviour is not continuous. Also, the behaviour must be deemed to be of a nature deliberately designed to cause alarm and/or stress. In addition to this is the fact that the claimant must be deliberately targeted.
The punishment for harassment can be up to six months’ imprisonment, a fine of £5,000 or both. Also, a restraining order may be issued by the court.
Indecent exposure is a crime under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. For a person to be convicted of indecent exposure they must have revealed their genitals intentionally. It is no crime if the naked body is revealed accidently as there is no intent.
In addition to this the defendant must have intended that somebody was to see the exposure. A person cannot be convicted of indecent exposure if they never intended anyone to see them naked. Therefore, the offence is balanced in accordance with the distress caused to the victim rather than simply punishing somebody for exposing themselves. For this reason the exposure must be intended to cause alarm and/or distress if the defendant is to be convicted.
For a single offence of indecent exposure, the punishment is usually a community order. Repeat offending, especially if children are the victims, carries a far tougher punishment.
Under section 19 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009, the offence of kerb crawling (under the Sexual Offences Act 1985) was replaced and a new offence created for a person in a street or public place to solicit another for the purpose of obtaining a sexual service as a prostitute. This can include someone in a motor vehicle. This offence is punishable on summary conviction with a fine.
In order to be convicted of kidnapping it must be shown that the victim has been unlawfully seized by the defendant against the victims’ will. This crime can be closely associated with the offence of false imprisonment. Kidnapping can have quite a wide definition because in addition to the more obvious example of physically forcing somebody to come with you, it can also be enough if a person was induced by deception to make a journey that he or she would not have made had they known the truth. In that sense, if the victim was not physically forced to go with the defendant but was tricked, or forced by means of fraud, then the offence of kidnapping is still met.
Punishment for kidnapping can vary with the maximum sentence being life imprisonment. Sentencing can be dependent on whether other factors are involved such as the age of the victim.
Manslaughter is an offence that can be used for a number of different types of scenarios. This is because it will often act as a default position if there is an unlawful killing and murder is not proven. The sheer scale of different scenarios and circumstances that can lead to a charge of manslaughter is probably best summed up by the fact that the punishment for manslaughter ranges from life imprisonment to a complete discharge.
There are, however, two main categories of manslaughter – voluntary and involuntary.
Voluntary Manslaughter – If a person is provoked into killing somebody then they have met all the elements of a murder charge but because of the provocation the offence will be reduced to manslaughter. It is important to note that in order to be guilty of voluntary manslaughter there is still the intention to kill. The level of provocation required should be enough to make a reasonable man do as he did taking into account everything said and done at the time of the offence. This is a question for the jury rather than a judge.
Involuntary Manslaughter – In order to understand what is meant by involuntary manslaughter, it may help to consider the offence consisting of two different parts – constructive manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter. Constructive manslaughter in brief terms involves unlawful killing whilst carrying out an unlawful act. So although there may not be an intention to kill, there is an intention to cause an unlawful act, and this unlawful act must be dangerous. An example would be pushing somebody in the stomach intending to commit an assault, but that push leads to the death of the individual.
Gross negligence manslaughter, on the other hand, would be if a duty of care is owed by the defendant to the victim and the neglect of that duty was so severe that a jury feels the negligence was of a standard warranting criminal punishment. An example of gross negligence manslaughter would be the death of a child due to the mother neglecting to feed her.
Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment but not all offenders will receive the same punishment: all factors will be considered when punishments are handed out.
Money laundering is an offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Money laundering is a method used by criminals to disguise the fact that the money which they have is stolen. They would do this by creating an apparently good reason for having the money. An example would be if an individual pays money into a professional organisation, perhaps to buy a house, and then pulls out of the transaction. They would then have a receipt from the professional organisation showing the money had been paid from them.
Money laundering is considered a serious offence and carries a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment.
Murder is the offence of unlawfully killing somebody whilst having what is known as ‘malice aforethought’. ‘Malice aforethought’ describes when there is either an intention to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm. It does not require an intention of ‘malice’ in the sense of intending the victim to suffer, so a mercy killing is still sufficient to constitute a murder. If you are convicted of murder you are likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment.
The offence of perjury involves an individual lying whilst under oath. Under the Perjury Act of 1911 a person will be guilty of perjury if they in judicial proceedings wilfully make a false statement which they either know to be false or do not believe to be true. If a person is found guilty of perjury they can be sent to prison for up to seven years and may also receive a hefty fine. It is therefore always important that you are aware when signing a sworn document or speaking under oath, just what the punishments are.
As of 1 April 2010, it is an offence under section 16 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009 for a male or female to persistently loiter or solicit in a public place or on a street to offer services as a prostitute. Such activity is considered to be ‘persistent’ if it takes place on two or more occasions within three months. If convicted of this offence, the court may order the offender to attend meetings with a supervisor in order to address the causes and help prevent any future engagement in prostitution. It is also punishable by a fine, or a Rehabilitation Order.
A pyramid scheme is a business model, whereby the main way of making money is by through the recruitment of other members to the scheme, rather than by selling the schemes’ goods and services. Such schemes require a never-ending supply of new recruits for everyone to make money. As this is not sustainable, the pyramid will eventually collapse and most people will lose their money. These are a form of fraud and are against the law under the Gambling Act 2005 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
Rape is defined under section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which says that it is an offence for a man to penetrate the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with his penis if that person does not consent to it and the offender does not reasonably believe that they consent to it. Rape is a very serious crime and can be punishable by life imprisonment.
This offence is committed when a person intentionally touches another person in a way that is sexual, either without that person’s consent or without a reasonable belief that they consent. Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, this can be tried in either the Magistrates’ or the Crown Court and a person found guilty is liable on summary conviction to up to six months’ imprisonment, a fine or both; or on indictment, to up to ten years’ imprisonment.
This occurs when individuals, firms or other entities attempt to avoid paying taxes by illegal means in order to reduce their tax liability. This may involve not accurately declaring their financial affairs, such as an individual not reporting their income, to HM Revenue and Customs. This is against the law and should be reported to HMRC in the first instance.
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