Common assault, involves intentionally or recklessly causing another person to fear immediate and unlawful violence. It doesn’t necessarily require physical contact; the threat or apprehension of violence is sufficient.
Assault occasioning actual bodily harm involves intentionally or recklessly inflicting physical harm on another person that goes beyond merely transient or trifling.
Assault occasioning grievous bodily harm is a more serious offense where the accused intentionally or recklessly inflicts severe injuries or harm on the victim, resulting in grievous bodily harm. GBH typically includes injuries like broken bones, organ damage, or permanent disfigurement.
Reckless wounding occurs when an individual inflicts wounds or injuries on another person without intent, but with reckless disregard for the safety and well-being of the victim. The injuries are typically more serious than those in common assault.
Stalk or intimidate offences involve engaging in conduct with the intent to cause fear, physical or mental harm, or apprehension of violence towards another person. It encompasses behaviors like stalking, harassment, and threats.
Affray is a charge that arises when two or more individuals engage in violent or tumultuous conduct in public, which causes fear and distress to onlookers. It involves the use or display of force, but it doesn’t require actual physical harm to occur.
Affray involves violent or tumultuous conduct by a group of people causing fear, but it doesn’t necessarily escalate to a full-scale riot. Riot, on the other hand, entails a larger group engaging in violent and disorderly conduct, often leading to property damage and a public disturbance.
Penalties vary depending on the specific charge and jurisdiction but may include fines, good behaviour bonds, community service, restraining orders, and imprisonment. The severity of the penalties generally correlates with the seriousness of the offense.
Yes, self-defence can be a valid defence if the accused reasonably believed that using force was necessary to protect themselves or others from imminent harm. The response must be proportionate to the threat.
It is strongly advisable to consult with a qualified criminal defence lawyer when facing any assault charges. Legal representation can help you understand your rights, build a strong defence, and navigate the legal process effectively to achieve the best possible outcome.
Proven Success in Defending Assault Cases
The highly experienced criminal defence team at KPT Defence Lawyers has an exceptional track record of effectively defending assault cases.
The primary defences to assault charges are as follows:
The most commonly used defence in assault cases is self-defence.
According to section 418 Crimes Act:
– A person is not criminally responsible for an offence if they carried out the conduct constituting the offence in self-defence.
– Conduct is considered self-defence only if the person believes it is necessary:
(a) to defend themselves or another person,
(b) to prevent or stop the unlawful deprivation of their liberty or another person’s liberty,
(c) to protect property from unlawful taking, damage, destruction, or interference, or
(d) to prevent criminal trespass to land or premises or to remove a person committing such trespass.
However, the conduct must be a reasonable response to the perceived circumstances.
In essence, a person cannot be found guilty of assault if:
(a) they genuinely believed the assault was necessary to defend themselves, another person, or property, and
(b) the assault was a reasonable response to the perceived threat.
If self-defence is raised as a defence in an assault case, the defendant must be found ‘not guilty’ unless the prosecution can prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that:
(a) the person did not genuinely believe the assault was in self-defence, or
(b) the assault was not a reasonable response to the perceived threat.
‘Duress’ occurs when a person is forced to commit an act under the threat of death or serious harm.
For example, if an armed bank robber threatens to harm a staff member unless they restrain or strike an uncooperative customer.
If duress is raised as a defence in an assault charge, the defendant must be found ‘not guilty’ unless the prosecution can prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that:
(a) there is no reasonable possibility that the assault occurred due to a threat of death or serious injury, or
(b) there is no reasonable possibility that an ordinary person would have committed such an assault, or
(c) the defendant failed to take advantage of a reasonable opportunity to render the threat ineffective, such as running away or calling the police.
‘Necessity’ arises when a person undertakes an emergency act to prevent death or serious injury to themselves or another.
For instance, if a person commits some sort of assault offence to an innocent third party in order to, say, escape a bank robbery, believing the robbers are pursuing them.
If necessity is raised as a defence in an assault case, the defendant must be found ‘not guilty’ unless the prosecution can prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
(a) sudden or extraordinary circumstances did not exist, and
(b) committing the assault(s) was not the only reasonable way to handle that emergency, and
(c) the conduct was not a reasonable response to that emergency.
*Note that the defence of necessity cannot be used against a charge of murder (a principle established in a 19th century English case of cannibalism among starving ship cast-aways).
4. Lawful Correction
‘Lawful Correction’ serves as a defence to an assault committed by a parent on their child or a teacher on their pupil.
Section 60AA Crimes Act states:
– In criminal proceedings for applying physical force to a child, it is a defence if the force was applied for the purpose of punishment of the child, but only if:
(a) the physical force was applied by the child’s parent or a person acting for the parent, and
(b) the application of that physical force was reasonable considering the child’s age, health, maturity, or other characteristics, the nature of the alleged misbehavior, or other circumstances.
Thus, the assault must be reasonable and warranted in the circumstances, taking into account the child’s age and health.
Examples of ‘lawful correction’ include:
– Smacking a young child’s bottom as a form of punishment, as long as excessive force is not used.
– Physically restraining a child, provided excessive force is not employed.
– Pushing a child toward their room without using excessive force.
Examples of conduct that exceeds ‘lawful correction’ include:
– Striking a child excessively.
– Punching or kicking a child.
– strikes with force to the head and neck of a child.