A Psycho-Legal Perspective on Sexual Offending in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Creaby-Attwood, Ann and Allely, Clare (2017) A Psycho-Legal Perspective on Sexual Offending in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 55. pp. 72-80. ISSN 0160-2527

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijlp.2017.10.009


It is important to consider whether there are innate vulnerabilities that increase the risk of an individual with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), predominantly those defendants with a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, being charged and convicted of a sexual offence. The significance of such can be readily seen in recent English case law, with judgments on appeal finding convictions unsafe where there have been a number of failings in the Judge's summing up. In this article, we will consider the gravity of Judges omitting to highlight a defendant’s diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and the necessity of detailed explanations to jury members regarding the condition and its effect upon thoughts and behaviour. Consideration will be specifically given to the necessity to prove sexual motivation in such offences and the judicial direction required in relation to whether the appellant's actions had been sexually motivated. Recognition of the social impairments inherent in ASDs are vital to this work and we shall consider whether the difficulty with the capacity to develop appropriate, consenting sexual relationships as a result of impaired social cognition may be one of the factors which increases the risk of sexual offending in individuals with ASD (Higgs & Carter, 2015).

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Asperger’s Syndrome; autism spectrum disorder; ASD; AS; sexual offending; sexual offences.
Subjects: M200 Law by Topic
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2017 14:20
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2022 12:30
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/32329

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