Section 245 of the Criminal Code provides a broad definition of “assault”.
In summary, a person assaults another if they:
The actions described above can be direct or indirect. They can also occur with the other person’s consent if that consent was obtained by fraud.
Accordingly, there are a wide range of actions that can result in an assault charge.
See Common Assault, for a more in-depth discussion on what sort of actions constitute assault.
The police can charge a person with a more serious offence in circumstances, depending on:
In Queensland, a person is guilty of a crime called “serious assault”, if they:
Serious assault is “serious” due to the circumstances of the victim or the intent of the defendant.
The maximum penalty for this charge is 7 years imprisonment.
This increases to 14 years imprisonment in circumstances where the offender:
Statistics in the Magistrates Court over the last 5 years show that for offences of this nature:
The Penalties and Sentences Act is a governing body of legislation. It offers guidelines to assist the Court in determining an appropriate sentencing penalty. The sentencing guidelines for which the Court is to have regard to are set out in Section 9. They state that a Court should only impose a sentence of imprisonment as a last resort. This principle applies to most, but not all offences. It does not apply to offences involving violence, or that resulted in physical harm to a person.
For this reason, imprisonment is not a sentence of “last resort” for serious assault.
It is, as such, important to obtain legal advice if police have charged you with this offence.
Our Sunshine Coast criminal lawyers will take steps to minimise the penalty imposed. This can include by:
Serious assault is an indictable offence.
Generally, indictable offences must be finalised in a higher Court. This can be the District Court or Supreme Court.
In the case of Serious Assault, the prosecution can elect whether to indict the matter.
The charge can be dealt with summarily in the Magistrates Court if the prosecution elect. Otherwise, the charge will be committed to the District Court to be dealt with on “indictment” (a type of formal accusation).
It is typical for the Magistrates Court to hear less serious matters than the District Court.
As such, the prosecution will consider the overall seriousness of the offending, including:
Based on this, they will determine if the matter can be finalised summarily (dealt with in the Magistrates Court) or if it needs to be indicted (committed to the District Court).
Your matter will proceed before the District Court of Queensland at Maroochydore if:
Assault is only “unlawful” if it is not authorised, justified, or excused by law. Certain defences exist which can excuse a person of assault at law.
See our article on the common defences available to assault and offences of violence.
We can review the evidence held by police and advise you on whether a defence applies.
We have had success for clients in the District and Supreme Courts at trial for serious violence offences. If you are intending to plead not guilty to a charge, we can expertly represent and defend you.
If you believe you may have a defence, contact one of our criminal lawyers on 07 5408 0655 for legal advice.
The charge of serious assault requires full and proper preparation prior to Court. This is to ensure your matter is presented in the best possible light.
Imprisonment is a very real outcome of a serious assault charge, so it should not be taken lightly. Engaging an experienced law firm to advise you can assist you to get the best outcome.
Aitken Whyte Lawyers Sunshine Coast are focused on results
Our criminal lawyers are passionate advocates and hold themselves to a high standard. We are experienced and confident in appearing for violence offences, such as serious assault.
We will explain the process in clear terms so that you are informed and prepared for Court.