A criminal conviction for Assault can have a devastating impact on your freedom, livelihood and your future. There is no substitute to having an experienced Adelaide assault lawyer on your side if you are accused of violence.
What is assault?
Assault is a criminal offence which occurs when a person intentionally applies force (either directly or indirectly) to another person (“the victim”). An assault includes any physical contact with the victim without the victim’s consent. An assault can also include a threat to apply force to the victim if the victim has reasonable grounds to believe that the person who made the threat intends to carry it out, or there is a reasonable possibility that the person will carry out the threat. In order to have committed an assault, you must have intended to apply force to the victim (or intended to make a threat to apply force to the victim).
Conduct that lies within the limit of what would generally be accepted in the community as normal social interaction will not amount to an assault. So, for example, if you accidentally bump into someone at a busy train station, you will not be guilty of assault provided that the contact was not unreasonable.
Helpful Questions & Answers
WHAT IS AGGRAVATED ASSAULT?
An aggravated assault will occur if you have committed an assault in one of the following circumstances:
- The offence was committed in the course of deliberately and systematically inflicting severe pain on the victim;
- The offender used, or threatened to use, an offensive weapon to commit, or when committing, the offence;
- The offender committed the offence against a police officer, prison officer or other law enforcement officer (knowing that the victim was acting in the course of their duties, or in retribution for something that the victim has done in the course of carrying out their duties);
- The offender committed the offence intending to prevent or dissuade the victim from taking legal proceedings or from pursuing a particular course in legal proceedings;
- The offender committed the offence in connection with the victim’s conduct or future conduct (for example as a party or a witness or in any other capacity) in legal proceedings;
- The offender committed the offence in retribution against the victim for commencing legal proceedings or for the victim’s conduct (as a party, witness or in any other capacity) in legal proceedings;
- The offender committed the offence knowing that the victim was, at the time of the offending, over the age of 60 years;
- The offender committed the offence against their de facto partner or spouse, or ex-partner or ex-spouse;
- The offender committed the offence to benefit a criminal organisation, or 2 or more members of a criminal organisation, or at the direction of or in association with a criminal organisation;
- The offender committed the offence in whilst identifying himself or herself in some way as belonging to, or otherwise being associated with, a criminal organisation;
- The offender committed the offence in the company of 1 or more other persons (including persons who are children);
- The offender abused a position of authority, or a position of trust, in committing the offence;
- The offender committed the offence knowing that the victim was, at the time of the offence, in a position of vulnerability because of a physical disability or cognitive impairment;
- The victim was, to the knowledge of the offender, in a position of vulnerability at the time of the offence because of the nature of his or her occupation or employment;
- The offender was, at the time of the offence, acting in contravention of an injunction or other order of any court and the offence lay within the range of conduct that the injunction or order was designed to prevent.
DEFENCE TO ASSAULT
You may have a defence if:
- the person consented;
- the act was involuntary;
- you acted in self-defence;
- you were defending your property; or
- you were defending another person.
Other defences include:
- Duress: if you were acting under a threat against you. Our lawyers will demonstrate that a third party forced you to commit the offence against your free will.
- Mental Impairment / Automatism: some individuals may not realise what they are doing is wrong. Examples include Schizophrenia, Epilepsy, or sleep walking.
- Emergency: this defence may apply if you had to break the law in order to avoid danger. For example, you were acting in the course of protecting yourself or someone else.
WHAT IS THE PENALTY FOR ASSAULT?
The maximum penalty for assault is imprisonment for 2 years. If you are charged with aggravated assault, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 3 years. If you are charged with assault using an offensive weapon (or threatening to use an offensive weapon), the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 4 years.
If the assault caused the victim to suffer harm, the penalties are more severe. The maximum penalty for assault causing harm is imprisonment for 3 years. If you are charged with aggravated assault causing harm, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 4 years. If you are charged with aggravated assault using an offensive weapon (or threatening to use an offensive weapon), the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 5 years.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM CHARGED WITH ASSAULT?
If you are charged with assault, you should seek legal representation and advice at the earliest opportunity from a specialist criminal defence lawyer. Our experienced criminal lawyers can assist you with the preparation of your defence and represent you at Court hearings in the Magistrates Court, District Court and Supreme Court of South Australia. If you are guilty of the assault, we can assist you by entering your plea of guilty and making submissions on your behalf to try and get the penalty reduced.