Are child-like sex dolls illegal?
The Crown Prosecution Service has issued new guidance to prosecutors as to which offences may be committed regarding “child-like” sex dolls after more than 200 seizures by Customs Officers in the last two years.
The potential offences are:
- Importing obscene articles.
- Publishing an article for gain or not, or having an article for publication for gain, which is obscene.
- Sending an obscene article by post.
Is it illegal to own or make a child-like sex doll?
There is no crime of making or possessing a childlike sex doll. It is the importation or sending that triggers a potential offence.
What does child-like mean?
There is no definitive guide to what “childlike” means. Size, characteristics and description will all be considered. This goes to the issue of obscenity.
This is one of the most troublesome legal issues. It will ultimately be a matter for a Judge or Jury to decide when the issue is not clear cut.
Does the doll have to be made for sex?
The doll must have been made for sexual use. Again, this is what may give rise to the obscenity issue. When deciding whether this is the case its design, accessories and advertised purpose will all be relevant.
What else has to be proved?
That depends which of the offences you are charged with.
If it is importing then it has to be proved to the criminal standard that you knew it was unlawful to import them.
If it’s one of possessing it for publication for gain, the prosecution will have to prove there would be some gain to be made.
How long could the prison sentence be?
That, again, depends on the charge.
- importation offences carry a maximum of seven years
- publishing obscene articles carries a maximum of five years
- the postal offence a maximum of one year.
The new prosecution guidance on child-like sex dolls
“[The decision to prosecute] involves an exercise in judgment about what a jury is likely to conclude about the appearance of the doll. Expert evidence as to age or appearance, or obscenity, is not admissible and should not be sought. This is consistent with the position in respect of indecent images of children, where the age of a child is a finding of fact for the jury to determine and expert evidence is inadmissible.”
“[It is not] permissible to use other evidence, such as other material suggesting a sexual interest in children (for instance, indecent images of children), when assessing whether the doll is, objectively and of itself, obscene. Neither the motive of the person possessing/importing, nor the existence of material external to the doll, is relevant or admissible on this question.”
In relation to the aspect of a case involving importation the guidance stresses the following:
“As possession of a childlike sex doll is not unlawful per se in England and Wales, prosecutors should start from the position that, without more, a suspect may not know its importation is unlawful. Prosecutors will need to consider this element of the offence carefully.”
Contact an expert in criminal law
If you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about any offending involving a child-like sex doll then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice. The courts will always take such offences seriously upon conviction and the law is complicated.
If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.
As expert criminal solicitors, part of our skill lies in negotiation with the prosecuting bodies. We will be able to apply the facts of the allegations in your case with the guidance to the prosecution and ask for a favourable review of your case.
We have offices across the East Midlands and will happily travel across the country to provide representation for all football related offences.
Alternatively you can contact us using the form below.