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Assault Charges in Victoria

Assault Charge Criminal Defence Lawyers in Melbourne

If you’ve been charged with assault, our expert lawyers are here to help. We have years of experience advising and representing clients in all kinds of assault matters before the Magistrates’ and County Courts in Victoria.

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Criminal Assault Charges in Victoria

There are numerous pieces of legislation and common law that criminalise assault in Victoria. The two most relevant pieces of legislation in relation to assault charges in Victoria are the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) and the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

Less serious assault charges are known as summary offences. These types of offences are dealt with in the Magistrates Court. Serious indictable offences are heard in the County Court.

If you have been charged or are under investigation for an assault offence, please contact Sher Criminal Lawyers immediately. Our team of defence experts specialises in assault matters and are here to help you. We have years of experience advising and representing clients before the Magistrates and County Courts of Victoria. Our lawyers are available 24/7 and offer free consultations by way of Zoom, Facetime or in person at our Melbourne and Moorabbin offices.

Section 23 of the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) provides a summary statutory offence for ‘unlawful assault’. Unlawful assault charges are heard before the Magistrates’ Court and carry a maximum penalty of 15 penalty units (around $165 per unit) or 3 months imprisonment.

However, in the most serious cases of unlawful assault, a person may be charged with ‘common assault’. Common assault is a criminal offence that arises at common law in Victoria (R v Patton [1998] 1 VR 7). These matters are heard before the County Court and carry a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

A person may be charged with unlawful assault if they “unlawfully assaulted or beat another person”. Examples might include threatening to punch someone, hitting another person or spitting at another person. Charges of unlawful assault can be laid even if the victim wasn’t injured.

To be found guilty of unlawful assault, the prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally (and without consent) applied force to the victim or threatened the victim with violence.

There are several legal defences to unlawful and common assault. Our expert team at Sher Criminal Lawyers can assess the circumstances of your case and determine if any legal defences are applicable in your matter.

Aggravated assault is a summary offence in Victoria (s24 Summary Offences Act 1966). Charges are heard before the Magistrates Court and carry a maximum penalty of 25 penalty units (around $165 per unit) or 2 years imprisonment.

A person may be charged with aggravated assault if they:

  • Assault a child (aged under 14) or woman (if the Magistrates Court deems that a conviction of common assault is not sufficient in the circumstances);
  • Assault another person in company with other offenders; or
  • Assault another person by kicking them or using a weapon.

To be found guilty of aggravated assault, the prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the elements of the offence have been satisfied (and no legal defence can be relied upon).

There are several legal defences to aggravated assault. Our expert team at Sher Criminal Lawyers can assess the circumstances of your case and determine if any legal defences are applicable in your matter.

The Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) outlines several indictable offences in regard to intentionally or recklessly causing injury. Relevant charges include:

  • Intentionally causing serious injury in circumstances of gross violence (s15A): maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment.
  • Recklessly causing serious injury in circumstances of gross violence (s15B): maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment.
  • Intentionally causing serious injury (s16): maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment.
  • Recklessly causing serious injury (s17): maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment.
  • Causing injury intentionally (s18): maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
  • Causing injury recklessly (s18): maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
  • Administering certain substances capable of interfering substantially with the bodily functions of another person (s19): maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

The Act also legislates offences in relation to recklessly or negligently causing serious injury or endangering life:

  • Reckless conduct endangering life (s22): maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
  • Negligently causing serious injury (s24): maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

All of the above charges are heard in the County Court. However, an experienced criminal lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecution and have the charges dealt with summarily in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

An offence is considered “reckless” if the accused intentionally committed the act and knew that it could reasonably cause harm or kill someone; even if they did not intend to harm someone. In other words, the accused was willing to run the risk of someone else being injured or killed when they committed the offence.

On the other hand, an offence is considered “negligent” if the accused did or omitted to do something that caused injury; because they failed to foresee how the act or omission would result in the harm caused.

There are many factors that the Court must account for when determining the outcome of these types of matters. All the circumstances and injuries must be taken into consideration. If the prosecution fails to prove any element beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant cannot be held criminally liable for the intentional, reckless or negligent offence.

Indictable charges are heard in the County Court. However, in certain circumstances, the defendant may be able to have these charges heard summarily in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria. Numerous indictable assault charges can be found in the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), including:
  • Assault (s31): maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment. The offence includes assaulting or threatening to assault:
• A person with the intention to commit an indictable offence; • An emergency worker or custodial worker on duty (including obstructing and resisting behaviour); or • A person with the intent to resist or prevent the lawful apprehension or detention of a person.
  • Threats to Kill (s20): maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.
  • Threats to Inflict Serious Injury (s21): maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment.
  • Extortion with Threats to Kill (s27): maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment.
  • Extortion with Threats to Destroy Property (s28): maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.
  • Using Firearms to Resist Arrest (s29): maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.
  • Threatening Injury to Prevent Arrest (s30): maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment.
  • Use of Firearms in the Commission of Offences (s31A): maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment.
  • Being Armed with Criminal Intent (s31B): maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment.
  • Discharging a Firearm Reckless to Safety of a Police Officer (s31C): maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment.
  • Intimidation of a Law Enforcement Officer or Their Family Member (s31D): maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.
  • Kidnapping (s63A): maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment.
  • Aggravated Burglary (s77): maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment.
  • Affray (s195H): maximum penalty of 7 years’ imprisonment.
The Common Law also provides numerous offences often charged in assault cases in Victoria, including:
  • False Imprisonment: maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.
  • Public Nuisance: maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment.
  • Riot: maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.
  • Rout: maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment.
There are many factors that the County Court must consider when determining the outcome of indictable assault trial. All relevant evidence and circumstances must be taken into account. If the prosecution fails to prove any element beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant cannot be held criminally liable for that assault charge.

Stalking is another serious assault-related charge legislated under Section 21A of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). As an indictable offence, it carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Stalking includes any act that is intentionally undertaken to cause physical or mental harm. It can also include behaviour that leads the victim to fear for their safety. This might include:

  • Cyberstalking
  • Threats
  • Spying and surveillance
  • Repeated and unwanted contact
  • Tracking someone’s private information without their consent
  • Loitering around or entering someone’s home or office

Stalking matters are complex and there may be several defences available to a defendant fighting a stalking charge. The prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused’s offending was intentional. Therefore, the defendant may be able to prove that they acted without malice or intent.

The Court Procedure for Criminal Assault Charges in Victoria

If you have been charged with a summary assault offence, your matter will be heard and finalised in the Magistrates Court of Victoria. Summary matters may involve several complex stages of case preparation and court procedure, including:

  • Police Questioning
  • Filing of Charges
  • First Mention Hearing
  • Summary Case Conference
  • Contest Mention
  • Contested Hearing

If you plead guilty to the assault charges, your matter may be heard and finalised in one day. However, if you plead not guilty, the prosecution must prove each element of the relevant offence beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutions failure to do so will result in the defendants being found not guilty of that charge.

Obtaining expert legal advice in regard to summary assault charges is crucial. Our team of specialist criminal lawyers can advise you of your legal options and represent you in the Magistrates Court to secure the best possible outcome.

If you have been charged with an indictable assault offence, your matter might start in the Magistrates Court, but it will likely be finalised in the County Court. Indictable matters may involve several complex stages of case preparation and court procedure, including:

  • Police Interview
  • Committal Proceedings
  • Plea Hearing
  • Pre-trial Disclosure
  • Directions Hearing
  • Arraignment
  • Trial
  • Sentencing Hearing

Indictable cases can be heard summarily in the Magistrates’ Court under certain circumstances. If a charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 or fewer years imprisonment, it can be heard summarily with the consent of the defendant and the Magistrate’s approval. It may also be possible for an experienced criminal lawyers to negotiate alternative assault charges with the prosecution, which could result in the matter being heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

If you plead not guilty, the prosecution must prove each element of the relevant offence beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutions failure to do so will result in the defendants being found not guilty of that charge.

Obtaining expert legal advice in regard to indictable assault charges in Victoria is crucial. Our team of specialist criminal lawyers can advise you of your legal options and represent you in the Magistrates’ and County Court to secure the best possible outcome.

Things to Consider When Charged with Assault in Victoria

Every assault matter is unique. Different offences require different elements to be proven. If all of the elements for a particular offence cannot be proven, the accused cannot be held legally liable for committing that offence. This is why it is important to seek the help of a criminal lawyer who specialises in assault charges. Our team at Sher Criminal Lawyers is highly experienced at defending assault charges before the Magistrates and County Courts of Victoria. We are here to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your assault matter.

Things for the Accused to Consider

Our specialist team at Sher Criminal Lawyers can answer your questions and provide you with expert advice and representation in your assault matter. We will explain your legal options to you by answering important questions such as:

  • Is there a legal defence I can rely on in my assault matter?
  • Does the prosecution have enough evidence to prove my assault charge?
  • How will the circumstances of the offence affect my matter?
  • What is the likely result if I plead guilty or not guilty?
  • Is it possible to have my charges negotiated to a lesser offence?

Things that the Court Must Consider

If your matter is taken to Court, the Magistrate or Judge will have to consider a wide range of factors that might prove you to be guilty or not guilty. In all assault matters, our experienced team at Sher Criminal Lawyers prepares the best possible defence by considering factors such as:

  • The reason and circumstances behind why you potentially committed an offence;
  • The number of parties involved;
  • Self-defence;
  • Mental impairment;
  • The intent of the accused;
  • Any other elements of the offence noted in relevant legislation.

Penalties for Assault Charges in Victoria

The Victorian Courts take assault charges seriously. Summary assault offences heard in the Magistrates Court can carry a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment. The most serious indictable assault offences heard in the County Court enforce a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.

The specific penalty for an offence is stipulated in the relevant legislation. The value of one penalty unit in Victoria is around $165.

Common penalties in relation to assault charges in Victoria include:

  • Imprisonment
  • A Community Corrections Order
  • A Good Behaviour Bond (Adjourned Undertaking)
  • A criminal conviction

What to Do If You Are Charged with Criminal Assault in Victoria

If you have been charged or are under investigation for an assault offence, please contact Sher Criminal Lawyers immediately. We are here to help you protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome in your matter.

In assault matters, police often lay a variety of charges. It is crucial to engage a criminal lawyer who specialises in these cases and understands the relevant legislation. It may be possible to negotiate alternative charges or have some of the charges dismissed entirely due to a lack of evidence. Our expert team at Sher Criminal Lawyers is extensively experienced in all kinds of assault matters and can advise and represent you in either the Magistrates’ Court or County Court.

Please get in touch with one of our specialist criminal lawyers. We are available 24/7 and offer free consultations by way of Zoom, Facetime or in person at our Melbourne and Moorabbin offices.

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