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I only threatened to share the image - I didn't actually do it - why do I have to go to Court?

View profile for Zara Cowan
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Many will know it is already an offence to disclose a private sexual film or photograph in which another person appears without the consent of that person.

Earlier this year and because of the Domestic Abuse Bill, a new offence has been created under Section 69 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, that offence is, threatening to disclose a private sexual photograph or film in which another individual appears, and by doing so, the person intends to cause distress to that individual, and the disclosure would be without the consent of that individual.  This offence came into effect on 29th June 2021.

The change has come following challenges by campaign groups arguing that a threat to post an image can be just as distressing as if the image had been posted following arguments that the threat can be a tactic used in relationships to coerce and maintain control. The increased use of social medial and smartphones has made it easier for images to be shared and taken without consent.

The Police didn’t find the image on my phone can they still prosecute me?

If you are charged with this offence, it is not necessary for the Crown Prosecution Service to prove that the film or photo referred to in the threat exists nor do they need to prove that it is a private sexual photo or film.

A report from the Law Commission is expected by Spring 2022, so further new offences may follow in due course. Johnson Astills will be monitoring this closely over the next few months.

How can we help?

At Johnson Astills we have a criminal team who regularly deal with a variety of sexual offences. Our specialist advocates in the Criminal Defence Team are highly experienced in dealing with sexual matters at both the Magistrates’ and Crown Court.

If you find yourself facing any offence it is vital to contact a solicitor as soon as possible to obtain expert legal advice. Representation at the police station is free, and legal aid may be available for your case at the Magistrates’ and Crown Court. For offences which do not qualify for legal aid, we offer fixed fees for appointments and representation.

To discuss any offences please contact our Criminal Defence Team at Johnson Astills at our Leicester Office on 0116 2554855 or our Loughborough Office on 01509 610312.