Last updated 29 August 2016

The most common defences to a sexual offence are:

  • consent—the accused argues that the complainant consented to the sexual act or that the accused honestly and reasonably believed that the complainant consented
  • identity—the accused denies being the person who allegedly assaulted the complainant.

Section 24 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) (Criminal Code) provides the accused with the possible excuse from criminal responsibility that they held an honest and reasonable but mistaken belief that the complainant was consenting.

In relation to attempted rape, it is sufficient that the accused’s belief is only honestly held (i.e. it need not also be reasonable) as s 4 of the Criminal Code requires that the accused has the intention to commit the offence. An honest belief in consent (even if not reasonable) is inconsistent with an intention to commit rape.