What is Assault?
Assault involves the apprehension, or actual application, of imminent unlawful force on another person without their consent.
Factors that decide which charge could be laid against you include:
The extent of the injuries suffered by the victim.
Your intention at the time of the alleged offence.
What the likely result of your actions would be.
Whether or not you actually intended to injure the victim is often irrelevant. You may be charged with an offence merely because you intended the victim to believe that they were going to be injured. For example, if you threaten to harm someone or act in an intimidating manner toward them, but have no actual intention of harming them, you may still be charged.
What are Common Assault Charges?
Unlawful and common law assault
You may be charged with assault, even if there is no physical contact with the victim. You may be charged if you intended to cause injury to the victim or if your conduct caused the victim to fear the imminent application of force.
Affray involves fighting in a public place, where a bystander who witnesses that fight would have been terrified. It is a reasonably serious offence that can carry a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.
Recklessly or intentionally causing injury or serious injury
In Victoria, causing injury means physical harm or harm to mental health. Physical harm includes:
- Substantial pain
- Infection with a disease and an impairment of bodily function
Causing serious injury means causing a combination of those injuries, causing injury that endangers life, or that is serious and will last a long time.
Kidnapping is a very serious offence which can carry a penalty of imprisonment of up to 25 years. The offence involves taking or detaining a person, with the intention of demanding money or any other advantage from that person for their release.
Making a threat to kill
In Victoria, making a threat to kill carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. If you intend that the other person would fear the threat would be carried out, or are reckless about whether the other person feared the threat would be carried out, you may be guilty of making a threat to kill.
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There are various defences that we could explore depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. In particular, you may have been acting in self-defence or acting under duress. In order to consider what defence is available to you, all the factors in your case must be considered. Assault offences can warrant serious penalties, including a term of imprisonment.
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Leanne Warren is an accredited criminal law expert specialising in assault offences.