Committing an offence with intent to commit a sexual offence

Sexual Offences Act 2003, s.62

Triable only on indictment (if kidnapping or false imprisonment committed), otherwise triable either way
Maximum: Life imprisonment (if kidnapping or false imprisonment committed), otherwise 10 years’ custody


In accordance with section 120 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, the Sentencing Council issues this definitive guideline. It applies to all offenders aged 18 and older, who are sentenced on or after 1 April 2014.*

Section 59(1) of the Sentencing Code provides that:

“Every court –

  1. must, in sentencing an offender, follow any sentencing guidelines which are relevant to the offender’s case, and
  2. must, in exercising any other function relating to the sentencing of offenders, follow any sentencing guidelines which are relevant to the exercise of the function,

unless the court is satisfied that it would be contrary to the interests of justice to do so.”

This guideline applies only to offenders aged 18 and older. For sentencing children and young people, see:

Structure, ranges and starting points

For the purposes of of section 60 of the Sentencing Code, the guideline specifies offence ranges – the range of sentences appropriate for each type of offence. Within each offence, the Council has specified different categories which reflect varying degrees of seriousness. The offence range is split into category ranges – sentences appropriate for each level of seriousness. The Council has also identified a starting point within each category.

Starting points define the position within a category range from which to start calculating the provisional sentence. Starting points apply to all offences within the corresponding category and are applicable to all offenders, in all cases. Once the starting point is established, the court should consider further aggravating and mitigating factors and previous convictions so as to adjust the sentence within the range. Starting points and ranges apply to all offenders, whether they have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trial. Credit for a guilty plea is taken into consideration only at step four in the decision making process, after the appropriate sentence has been identified.

*The maximum sentence that applies to an offence is the maximum that applied at the date of the offence. See Sexual offences - historic for more information.

Where kidnapping or false imprisonment was committed this is a Schedule 19 offences for the purposes of sections 274 and 285 (required life sentence for offence carrying life sentence) of the Sentencing Code.

For offences committed by kidnapping or false imprisonment, on or after 3 December 2012, this is an offence listed in Part 1 of Schedule 15 for the purposes of sections 273 and 283 (life sentence for second listed offence) of the Sentencing Code.

This is a specified offence for the purposes of sections 266 and 279 (extended sentence for certain violent, sexual or terrorism offences) of the Sentencing Code.

The starting point and range should be commensurate with that for the preliminary offence actually committed but with an enhancement to reflect the intention to commit a sexual offence. The enhancement will vary depending on the nature and seriousness of the intended sexual offence but 2 years’ custody is suggested as a suitable enhancement where the intent was to commit rape or assault by penetration.