Cabinet approves bill which would see minimum sentences for repeat sex offenders 2 years ago

Cabinet approves bill which would see minimum sentences for repeat sex offenders

The new bill will extend and strengthen existing criminal law on sexual offences.

Cabinet has approved a new bill which would propose minimum sentences for repeat sexual offenders and increase the penalties for women who commit incest.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan sought approval of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018 back in March, which was first proposed by Minister of State at the Office of Public Works Kevin “Boxer” Moran as a private member’s bill.

“Sexual offences are among the most serious crimes faced by our society, and the effect on victims is devastating," Minister Flanagan said on Tuesday as the decision was made to approve the publication of the bill.

"This Bill forms part of a Government commitment to strengthen the law in this area through the introduction of stronger sentencing provisions.”

The bill will ensure that a sex offender who has a previous conviction for a similar crime serves three-quarters of the maximum sentence for a second or subsequent offence.

The new law will only apply to an offender who has been convicted of and is sentenced to imprisonment for a period of at least five years.

Should that person commit another sex offence on top of this within a seven-year period, then a tougher minimum sentence will then be imposed.

Under the draft laws, the minimum period of prison time is set to be three-quarters of the maximum term of imprisonment allowed for that crime. In cases where the maximum imprisonment for that crime is life, then minimum sentencing of 10 years will apply.

The Bill will also seek to address the gender anomaly in Irish law with respect to incest.

As it stands, the crime of incest carried out by a male allows for a sentence of up to life imprisonment. Whereas incest carried out by a female carries a far more lenient maximum sentence of seven years in jail.

Minister Flanagan is proposing to correct this difference by increasing the penalty for incest by a female to 10 years.

The Bill will now be debated in the Dáil in the Autumn.