When it comes to drugs and sex laws, there are plenty of myths flying about. Ignorance is no excuse, so brush up your knowledge to avoid trouble later.
- Only serious drug dealers can be done for supplying: False. Supplying means giving drugs to someone who is not legally allowed to have them. So, if you and your mates all put some money together to pay for drugs and then one of you goes off to buy them, that person will be guilty of supplying. Also if you agree to look after drugs for someone you are guilty of supplying as soon as you give them back.
- I'm safe if my housemates use drugs but I don't join in: False. You can still be charged with allowing premises to be used for taking drugs, even if you're just one of several tenants.
- I can't be done if I'm caught with tiny amounts of drugs: False. You can be charged with possession of even tiny traces of drugs, providing the police can prove that you knew they were there.
- I can only be done for possession if I have the drugs on me: False. Possession means having control of illegal drugs. This can include having them in your house or in a bag in a locker, as long as you knew they were there.
- I can't be done if I've already taken the drugs when I get caught: False. Although technically it's not illegal to have taken drugs, the police can use traces of them in your blood or urine as evidence of past possession.
- Ecstasy will be downgraded to a Class C drug: False. The government did consider reclassifying it but decided that it was too dangerous.
- Cannabis has been legalised: False. Some police forces may turn a blind eye if you're caught with a small amount of cannabis for personal use, but it hasn't be legalised and you can still be jailed for up to two years for possession.
- Males are only breaking the law if they are over 16 and have sex with a girl under 16: False. The law is confusing when it comes to underage sex and sexual contact but it is illegal for anyone (male or female) over the age of ten to have any kind of sex - including oral sex and 'mutual masturbation' - with anyone under 16.
- If an underage girl consents to sex then it's not illegal: False. If a male has sex with a girl aged between 13 and 15 then he can be jailed for up to two years, whether she consents or not. If the girl is under 13 then it will be treated as rape, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
- It's not illegal if I thought she was over 15: That depends. If the girl is under 13 then there is no defence. If she is 13 or over then you may be found not guilty if you are under 24 years old, have never been charged with having underage sex before and genuinely believed the girl was over 16.
- The sex laws only apply to males: False. Although the laws are written on the assumption that they will be used mainly against males, they apply equally the other way around. If a female over the age of ten has any form of unlawful sexual activity - which includes almost any kind of sexual touching - with a boy or girl under the age of 16 then she may be charged with sexual assault.
- I can have sex with anyone as long as they consent and we are both over 16: False. The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 makes it illegal for a person over 18 to have sex with a person under 18 if they are in a position of trust. This makes it illegal for, say, a teacher to have sex with a pupil aged under 18.
Written by Paul Carr
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