Criminal law (rape) act, 1981

Enactment Date06 May 1981
Act Number10


Number 10 of 1981


CRIMINAL LAW (RAPE) ACT, 1981


ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

Section

1.

Interpretation.

2.

Meaning of “rape”.

3.

Restrictions on evidence at trials for rape offences.

4.

Preliminary examination.

5.

Trials of juveniles.

6.

Exclusion of the public.

7.

Anonymity of complainants.

8.

Anonymity of accused.

9.

Trials by court-martial.

10.

Punishment of indecent assault on female.

11.

Penalty for publication of unauthorised matter.

12.

Summary jurisdiction.

13.

Short title and commencement.


Acts Referred to

Children Act, 1908

1908, c. 67

Children Act, 1941

1941, No. 12

Criminal Justice Act, 1951

1951, No. 2

Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1935

1935, No. 6

Criminal Procedure Act, 1967

1967, No. 12

Offences against the Person Act, 1861

1861, c. 100

Summary Jurisdiction over Children (Ireland) Act, 1884

1884, c. 19


Number 10 of 1981


CRIMINAL LAW (RAPE) ACT, 1981


AN ACT TO AMEND THE LAW RELATING TO RAPE AND INDECENT ASSAULT ON FEMALES. [6th May, 1981]

BE IT ENACTED BY THE OIREACHTAS AS FOLLOWS:

Interpretation.

1.—(1) In this Act—

“a rape offence” means any of the following, namely, rape, attempted rape, aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring rape or attempted rape, and incitement to rape;

“complainant” means a woman in relation to whom a rape offence is alleged to have been committed.

(2) In this Act references to sexual intercourse shall be construed as references to carnal knowledge as defined in section 63 of the Offences against the Person Act, 1861 , so far as it relates to natural intercourse (under which such intercourse is deemed complete on proof of penetration only).

(3) In this Act “man” and “woman” include respectively a male and a female person of any age; but this does not affect any rule of law by virtue of which a male person is treated by reason of his age as being incapable of committing an offence of any particular kind.

Meaning of “rape”.

2.—(1) A man commits rape if—

(a) he has unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman who at the time of the intercourse does not consent to it, and

(b) at that time he knows that she does not consent to the intercourse or he is reckless as to whether she does or does not consent to it,

and references to rape in this Act and any other enactment shall be construed accordingly.

(2) It is hereby declared that if at a trial for a rape offence the jury has to consider whether a man believed that a woman was consenting to sexual intercourse, the presence or absence of reasonable grounds for such a belief is a matter to which the jury is to have regard, in conjunction with any other relevant matters, in considering whether he so believed.

Restrictions on evidence at trials for rape offences.

3.—(1) If at a trial any person is for the time being charged with a rape offence to which he pleads not guilty, then, except with the leave of the judge, no evidence shall be adduced and no question shall be asked in cross-examination at the trial, by or on behalf of any accused person at the trial, about any sexual experience of a complainant with a person other than that accused.

(2) (a) The judge shall not give leave in pursuance of subsection (1) for any evidence or question except on an application made to him, in the absence of the jury, by or on behalf of an accused person.

(b) The judge shall give leave if, and only if, he is satisfied that it would be unfair to the accused person to refuse to allow the evidence to be adduced or the question to be asked, that is to say, if he is satisfied that, on the assumption that if the evidence or question was not allowed the jury might reasonably be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the accused person is guilty, the effect of allowing the evidence or question might reasonably be that they would not be so satisfied.

(3) If, notwithstanding that the judge has given leave in accordance with this section for any evidence to be adduced or question to be asked in cross-examination, it appears to the judge that any question asked or proposed to be asked (whether in the course of so adducing evidence or of cross-examination) in reliance on the leave which he has given is not or may not be such as may properly be asked in accordance with that leave, he may direct that the question shall not be asked or, if asked, that it shall not be answered except in accordance with his leave given on a fresh application under this section.

(4) Nothing in this section authorises evidence to be adduced or a question to be asked which cannot be adduced or asked apart from this section.

Preliminary examination.

4.—(1) Where a justice of the District Court conducts a preliminary examination of a charge of a rape offence, then, except with the leave of the justice, evidence shall not be adduced and a question shall not be asked at the examination which, if the examination were a trial such as is mentioned in section 3 (1), could not be adduced or asked without leave in pursuance of that section.

(2) On an application for leave the justice shall—

(a) refuse leave unless he is satisfied that leave in respect of the evidence or question would be likely to be given at such a trial, or

(b) give leave if he is so satisfied.

(3) Section 3 (3) shall apply to an application under subsection (2) of this section with the substitution, for references to the judge, of references to the justice.

Trials of juveniles.

5.—Where a person charged with a rape offence is tried for that offence summarily in pursuance of the Summary Jurisdiction over Children (Ireland) Act, 1884, as amended by section 133 (6) of the Children Act, 1908, and section 28 of the Children Act, 1941 (which provides for the summary trial in certain cases of persons under the age of 17 years who are charged with indictable offences)—

(a) sections 2 (2) and 3 (2) (b) shall have effect as if for the references to the jury there were substituted references to the court,

(b) section 3 (2) (a) shall have effect as if the words “in the absence of the jury” were omitted, and

(c) section 3 , subsections (3) and (4) of section 7 and subsections (2), (4) and (5) of section 8 shall have effect as if for the references to the judge there were substituted references to the court.

Exclusion of the public.

6.—(1) Subject to subsection (2), notwithstanding section 111 (4) of the Children Act, 1908, section 20 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1951 , and section 16 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1967 , during the hearing of an application under section 3 (including that section as applied by section 5 ) or under section 4 (2), the judge, the justice or the court, as the case may be, shall exclude from the court all persons except officers of the court and persons directly concerned in the proceedings.

(2) Subsection (1) is without prejudice to the right of a parent, relative or friend of the complainant or, where the accused is a person under the age of 21 years, the accused to remain in court.

Anonymity of complainants.

7.—(1) Subject to subsection (8) (a), after a person is charged with a rape offence no matter likely to lead members of the public to identify a woman as the complainant in relation to that charge shall be published in a written publication available to the public or be broadcast except as authorised by a direction given in pursuance of this section.

(2) If, at any stage before the commencement of a trial of a person for a rape offence, he or another person against whom the complainant may be expected to give evidence at the trial applies to a judge of the High Court or Circuit Court for a direction in pursuance of this subsection and satisfies the judge—

(a) that the direction is required for the purpose of inducing persons to come forward who are likely to be needed as witnesses at the trial, and

(b) that the conduct of the applicant's defence at the trial is likely to be adversely affected if the direction is not given,

the judge shall direct that subsection (1) shall not, by virtue of the charge alleging the offence aforesaid, apply to such matter relating to the complainant as is specified in the direction.

(3) If at a trial of a person for a rape offence he or another person who is also charged at the trial applies to the judge for a direction in pursuance of this subsection and satisfies the judge—

(a) that the direction is required for the purpose of inducing persons to come forward who are likely to be needed as witnesses at the trial,

(b) that the conduct of the applicant's defence at the trial is likely to be adversely affected if the direction is not given, and

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