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What is assault?

Assault has been defined as any act, and not a mere omission to act, by which a person intentionally or recklessly causes another to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence (R v Ireland [1998] 1 AC 147). Assault may or may not include physical contact, and physical contact need not necessarily be present to prove the offence of assault (The Queen v Phillips (1971) 45 ALJR 467).

There are various types of assaults offences that you may be charged with. The most common assault offences include:

  • Common assault
  • Assault of police
  • Assault occasioning actual bodily harm
  • Intentionally/recklessly cause grievous bodily harm

What must you prove for assault?

To secure a conviction for common assault, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. An act by the accused which intentionally, or recklessly, causes another person (the complainant) to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence.
  2. That such conduct of the accused was without the consent of the complainant.
  3. That such conduct was intentional or reckless in the sense that the accused realised that the complainant might fear that the complainant would then and there be subject to immediate and unlawful violence and none the less went on and took that risk.
  4. That such conduct be without lawful excuse.

What to do if you have been charged with assault?

If you have been charged with assault, there may be a defence available to you, including:

  1. Self-defence;
  2. Necessity;
  3. Duress; or
  4. Accident.

If you have been charged with assault, it is important to obtain professional legal advice as soon as possible.

How can we help?

The Criminal team at Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers have the expertise to represent you in court when defending an assault. There are several options available, and it is important to obtain independent legal advice before attending Court.

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