How Common Are False Sexual Assault Claims?

A sexual assault allegation is very serious matter, so why would a person make a false one? In this blog, we explore how common false sexual assault claims are and why they may be overreported. We’ll also look at why it’s important to recognise when a claim is false, and what consequences a person may face for false reporting.

Defining false sexual assault claims

It is commonly cited that around 2% of sexual assault allegations are in fact false. This figure comes from a number of studies completed over time and the estimates range from 2% to even 10%. However, it is essential for us to consider what kinds of cases are labelled as false.

Common sense would imply that a false allegation occurs when a person intentionally reports a crime which did not occur. But in reality, studies from Australia, New Zealand and Britain all found that the label ‘false’ had been used for cases with insufficient evidence (undetected) or where charges were dropped (detected but no proceedings). This means that in some cases, a claim may be labelled as false not because it did not occur but because it was unable to be proven or the complainant removed their accusations.

How often are charges proven?

It’s also relevant to understand how many charges which reach the court system are in fact proven – meaning the defendant was found guilty by a judge/jury or chose to plead guilty. In 2019, only 45.6% of sexual assault charges were proven in the NSW District Court and 41% in the Local Court. This data shows us how complex sexual assault cases are and why it’s essential to contact qualified sexual assault lawyers for legal advice.

 “I understand that it is embarrassing, overwhelming and very upsetting when a person is confronted with a sexual assault allegation. This area of law is very complex and has serious ramifications if it is not addressed properly from the beginning. I will offer you advice, support, strategies, and high quality court representation focused on winning your case.”

Chadi Irani, Principal Solicitor and Accredited Specialist in Criminal Law

To help you better understand the intricacies of sexual assault under NSW law, read our previous blogs:

Why do we investigate false claims?

While we know that the statistics around false reporting can be misleading, we must also accept that in some cases false reports are made. If we do not investigate all cases with the belief that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, we risk undermining our justice system and wrongfully punishing innocent parties.

What happens to someone who falsifies a report?

It’s also important to note that making a false report is a crime within itself. Under the NSW Crimes Act 1900; a person who knowingly makes a false accusation is liable for imprisonment of up to 7 years. Similarly, a person who has lied under oath in court is liable for up to 10 years imprisonment.

Experience legal counsel with Powerhouse Law

Whether you or someone you know has been accused of a sexual assault or falsifying a report, know that legal assistance is available. Powerhouse Law have a team of professional lawyers who assist with varied criminal offences, including sexual assaults. Call us on 1800 100 529 for 24/7 legal assistance or fill in our online form to arrange your free first consultation.


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