Sex Offences

Any allegation of sexual offending is devastating. It will give rise to issues surrounding a grant of bail and the security of your employment, right through to continued contact with your family and friends.

Over the years, the law has strengthened very much in favour of the alleged victims, so more than ever, very careful preparation and presentation of your case is paramount.

We can assist with defending sex-related charges including (but not limited to):

Have You Been Charged?

It’s imperative that you seek legal advice if you’ve been accused/charged with a sexual offence.

Contact Criminal Defence Attorney Michael McMillan for assistance and legal advice on 0409 273 430.

Challenges of a criminal trial

Unlike many other offences, sex offences carry a stigma which regularly taints a jury and causes them to abandon their duty of objectivity.

This is an important consideration in determining how best to present your case because these types of charges can (in certain circumstances) be dealt with by a judge sitting without a jury.

This may eliminate (or at least reduce the impact) of sensational evidence or predetermined views because the judge’s reasons for verdict must be disclosed – whereas a jury’s does not.

Case Example: R v MMH [2020] QDC 70

A good example of a case I was involved in where this course was taken was R v MMH [2020] QDC 70. In this case, the alleged victim gave a great deal of evidence and it was thought that this detail may give a jury more reason to believe her.

The issue between the parties was merely whether or not she consented. Ultimately, it was clear from the way the judge carefully approached the alleged victim’s evidence that all of the issues telling against her were accepted. The result was an acquittal.

Defending against the ‘Preliminary Complaint’

In other matters, though, I have focused my attention on the evidence of other witnesses who will be called by the Crown.

Unlike in other matters where evidence of what the alleged victim told other witnesses would not be admissible, in sexual offence matters it is admissible and called ‘preliminary complaint’ – these are witnesses that the alleged victim has complained to after the incident.

The law has acknowledged that most sexual offending is alleged to have occurred without being directly witnessed. Accordingly, ‘preliminary complaint’ witnesses are heavily relied on by prosecutors to fortify the evidence of the alleged victim.

Many lawyers, though, fail to take advantage of exploring the evidence of these witnesses at committal, and so lose an important forensic advantage at trial.

Versions obtained from these witnesses through careful cross examination at committal can raise valuable questions about the truthfulness of an alleged victim’s recollection at trial.

Seeking additional information outside of court

I am also always conscious of searching for out of court information which may damage the credibility of the alleged victim.

One such method is acquiring the records of other government departments that relate to an alleged victim (E.g., the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women) to determine if their records disclose inconsistencies in the complaints they have received from and on behalf of the alleged victim.

Such successful searches for extra information can have a devastating effect on a prosecutor’s case.

Deeply examining the semantics of the charge

However, sometimes the best approach will be to simply focus on the words in the charge itself.

For example, in the case of R v P [2020] QDC 197, the focus of the case was whether or not the alleged acts constituting the charge were in fact ‘indecent’. A quick read of that case shows that, as I suspected, they were not.

These are just a few relevant examples, which demonstrate that the unique features of each case must be carefully considered and acted upon in order to maximise the chance of an acquittal.


Statistically, those convicted of sexual offending do end up serving a period of actual imprisonment – but it is not inevitable.

Although it sounds trite, one matter which is invaluable in attempting to avoid imprisonment is an early guilty plea.

In New South Wales, the discount applied to that is given a percentage, and it simply reduces the later the plea is entered.

So, very prompt review of the evidence and client response to it is imperative.

Another feature which must be addressed in sentence is prospects of rehabilitation and risk of reoffending. These concepts often compliment each other.

The key in their application is to identify the reason for the offending conduct and then comprehensively treat it.

Will a conviction be recorded?

More than most types of offences, disclosing that you are a sex offender to anyone will have devastating consequences.

And regrettably, many criminal law firms seem resigned to that outcome if their client is likely to be convicted of any type of sex offending.

But it is certainly not inevitable that a conviction must be recorded against you for that.

The following case of The Queen v (redcated) [2020] QDC 63 in which I was involved is a typical example of a case where the Crown attempted to convince the court that not only should the client be imprisoned, but that obviously a conviction should be recorded against her name as well.

After hearing the offending properly described and of the powerful mitigating features that the client was found to possess, the court agreed that not only should the client not be sent to prison, but that the conviction should not be recorded against her name as well.

How can I deal with multiple complainants alleging multiple charges?

A sure-fire way for the Crown to dramatically increase the prospect of a jury finding you guilty is to put a lot of individual charges with different complainants on the one indictment.

That way, they hope the jury will hear that you are alleged to have committed more than one sexual offence on more than one alleged victim.

The theory behind that is that if more than one complainant says you’ve committed sexual misconduct against them such an allegation is more likely to be true.

To counteract this, my view is that a good lawyer should closely examine this scenario to see if it is possible to dice up such an indictment in a way that prevents a jury from hearing multiple alleged victims claiming to have been sexually mistreated by the one client.

If the lawyer is successful in separating these claims, it dramatically improves the client’s chances of an acquittal.

Severing charges on indictment is a complex area of law and for obvious reasons, the Crown always fights hard to keep them together. Unfortunately, a lot of law firms do not understand the complexity involved in severing an indictment and leave this problem until the first day of jury trial to consider it (or don’t consider it at all), and by then it’s too late.

Case Example: R v DJM [2020] QDCPR 19

A good recent example involving me on a case in which this was successfully done is R v DJM [2020] QDCPR 19.

The outcome here means that, although there will be two trials rather than one, a jury will only ever hear one complaint make allegations about our client. And that also makes it more likely that the lawyer’s attack on that single complainant will establish a reasonable doubt about those allegations.

For further assistance on this or any other related topics, please do not hesitate to contact Michael.


Need help with your sexual offence matter?

Michael McMillan is experienced with cases relating to sex offences.

Contact us today to assist with your matter or call Michael McMillan directly on 0409 273 430.