Criminal Offences

Common Assault

Common assault is one of the most frequent charges that criminal defence lawyers represent in today’s society and is a serious criminal offence under section 61 of the Crimes Act, 1900. Common assault can be referred to as any unapproved touching that is intentional or reckless and can occur when one person attacks another individual but does not cause bodily harm. Common assault also includes circumstances in which an individual does not touch another person, but their actions caused the person to fear that personal violence will be inflicted on them.

This means that you could be arrested and charged with common assault if you strike or apply force to another person which was proven to be intentional or reckless and the touch or forced occur without consent. However, it is also important to understand that you could be arrested and charged with common assault even if you do not touch another person. It is enough if you cause another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence. For example, this can include harmful and violent threats.

Common assault is deemed as a serious crime and could result in penalties such as gaol time, community service, hefty fines, probation and a criminal conviction. In fact, section 62 of the Crimes Act 1990 states that “Whosoever assaults any person, although not occasioning actual bodily harm, shall be liable to imprisonment for 2 years.”

PENALTIES

As mentioned, guilty individuals charged with common assault may face a maximum penalty of 2 years in gaol. This penalty is usually considered as a last resort and used in circumstances where less severe punishments are not considered to be appropriate. There is a range of other penalties that the Court could impose for common assault offenders, taking your past criminal history, personal situation and circumstance surrounding the event into consideration.

If you decide to plead guilty to the offence of common assault, you can ask that the Court deals with the matter by a way of a section 10 dismissal. This is the least severe of punishments in which the matter is dismissed and criminal conviction will not be recorded. As a result, there are numerous factors that the Court will take into account before dealing with your case in such a way.

Additionally, Court may decide to deal with the matter by the way of section 10 conditional with good behaviour, which is pursuant to section 10(1)b of the Crimes (Sentencing & Procedure) Act. If your case is dealt with in this way, you are required to sign a bond with certain conditions to be of good behaviour for a period of time determined by the Court. If you breach the conditions, the Court will be notified and you will have to appear before the Court who initially imposed the bond.

The Court could also enforce community service as an appropriate punishment. In this instance, the court will have to determine that you are suitable to participate in community services. Your suitability will be established by an interview conducted at Court or your local community services branch.

Alternatively, Intensive Correction Orders (ICO), which are an alternative to gaol sentences may be enforced by the Court. Instead of entering full-time custody, you will be supervised and monitored regularly by a Community Corrections Officer and will need to participate in community service work. There are numerous conditions of ICO that require compliance which could include counselling, treatment and refraining from alcohol. Before this penalty is imposed, an interview will be conducted to determine suitability.

Most commonly, a fine is issued by the Court to deal with common assault charges. The fine must be paid within 28 days of the judgement. The Court will also consider the person’s ability to pay the fine when setting the amount.

If you’re facing common assault charges, do not hesitate to contact our Sydney based criminal lawyers for a FREE consultation and more relevant advice relating to the penalties that could be imposed for your individual situation.

GUILTY

If you choose to submit a guilty plea to the Court in relation to common assault, the Police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your actions resulted in another individual to immediately fear personal violence against them or that you unlawfully touched another individual without their consent. The Police must also prove that your actions were either intentional or reckless in nature.

If these facts can be established, your guilty plea often shows remorse in the eyes of the Court and could result in a less severe penalty. For example, if the circumstances surrounding the charge are not deemed serious and you have no prior criminal history, you may have the matter dealt with by a section 10 dismissal.

For the most accurate and honest advice, please contact our dedicated criminal defence lawyers to schedule a FREE confidential consultation.

NOT GUILTY

Alternatively, you can decide to plead not guilty to the common assault charges set out against you. In this circumstance, the Police must prove that you were guilty of common assault as defined by section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900. If they are able to successfully prove this claim, it is likely that the above penalties will be imposed.

To avoid this, our expert criminal lawyers who have years of experience in criminal defence can disprove these claims by arguing the following defences. This can result in complete dismissal of the charges in which no penalties will be awarded or result in less serious penalties which are more favourable than imprisonment.

However, if the prosecution team are unsuccessful in proving you are guilty of common assault, you will be found not guilty and therefore will not have any penalties imposed on you.

THE DEFENCE

If you are pleading not guilty to common assault charges, our criminal defence lawyers can argue the following defences:

Self-Defence: If accepted by the Court, a person isn’t responsible for the offence because they were defending themselves, or another person. When our criminal defence lawyers raise the issue of self-defence, it is for the prosecution to prove that the person who was accused wasn’t acting in self-defence.

Accident: The prosecution has to prove that the defendant, with the intent or being reckless, committed the assault. In some cases, the assault may have not been intentional or reckless. The defence can, therefore, raise the issue of an accidental touch, as not being voluntary.

Necessity: Although difficult to prove, the person accused of assault can be defended by the means of necessity if it can be determined that they were in fear they would be seriously harmed or even killed. The situation had to have been urgent, and the accused would have to believe that if they didn’t act, their life would have been in danger. The act of assault must be in proportion to the threat of danger.

WHICH COURT?

Common Assault is generally classified as a summary offence and therefore will be heard at a Local Court. Although we are a Parramatta and Sydney based criminal law firm, Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders have a wealth of experience in defending criminal cases all over NSW. Therefore, we are able to effectively represent our clients regardless of the location. For a full list of Local Courts and to find the closest to you, click here.