If you are likely to plead guilty to a sexual offence or an offence related to indecent images, it is vital that you ‘take positive steps to address your offending behaviour’.

Taking positive steps to address your offending behaviour is a very important mitigating factor listed in the sentencing guidelines for virtually all offences. If we can show the court that you have done this this will increase your chances of receiving the best / most lenient sentence.

So, what exactly does this mean?

In indecent images cases, at the very least, we will need to show that you have undertaken a course of counselling with a specialist therapist. The therapist should be approved by a recognised organisation for example Stop SO or Lucy Faithfull.

We will need to provide evidence to the court which will ideally confirm the following:

  • The qualifications and experience of your counsellor
  • The number of sessions you have attended (generally the more the better!)
  • The types of issues that you have been working through
  • Your level of motivation and engagement
  • Confirmation that you fully accept responsibility for your own actions
  • Confirmation that you now fully understand as to why these cases are treated seriously i.e. real children / victims being abused
  • Confirmation that you now fully understand that there would be less victims if individuals did not view such material and there was no market for it
  • Confirmation that you are genuinely remorseful
  • Confirmation that you intend to continue with counselling after you have been sentenced

 Choosing Your counsellor / therapist

Obviously, we will need to show the court that your therapist is experienced in helping individuals who have committed offences involving inappropriate online behaviour. The easiest way to do this is to use a therapist approved and / or recommended by an organisation that is well known and respected by the courts. The 2 most well-known organisations are Stop SO and Lucy Faithfull.

However, we do NOT recommend that you make a direct online referral via these organisations as we have some feedback from clients that certain therapists have not agreed to be bound by strict rules of confidentiality, and have disclosed to the police that they have been in touch!

We believe that this is completely inappropriate and certainly not conducive to a trusting and productive relationship between client and therapist!

As such we have a list of McMillans’ approved therapists that we have worked with in the past and who have agreed to be bound by strict rules of confidentiality, and who have received positive feedback from our clients and our lawyers.

The therapists that we recommend are all happy to provide detailed reports for use in court and will not disclose anything to the police (or anybody else) except in exceptional circumstances (for example: if you were to disclose that you intended to harm somebody else or yourself).

When should you start counselling?

The early the better! As such even if you have just been arrested and / or interviewed by the police (and as such a first court appearance may be many months away) it is sensible to find a therapist to start dealing / exploring with the reasons behind why you committed the offences. If we can show the court that you have a lengthy relationship with your counsellor this will demonstrate your motivation and commitment.

However, even if you are due to attend court next month or even week, it is still vital that you arrange an initial appointment so we can explain to the court that you have taken the ‘first steps’ to address your offending behaviour.

What other steps can you take?

If you have any drug, alcohol or mental health issues that may have influenced your behaviour you should consider contacting your GP and / or arranging additional counselling and / or support.

You may also consider downloading / installing software on your devices to make it impossible to download illegal material, for example  www.covenanteyes.com. Such programs will also provide reports as to your computer and internet use which can ideally demonstrate that you are no longer even looking at ‘legal’ pornography let alone anything illegal.

If you have any questions as to counselling options and / or any other issues connected to the steps you should be taking in advance of attending court please feel free to telephone our office.