Assault Lawyer Adelaide

The definitions and maximum penalties associated with various assault offences in South Australia

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Assault

In SA, assault carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment, or, 3 years for an aggravated offence. The consequences of this offence can be very serious as you are likely to receive a criminal record. You should contact an Assault Lawyer Adelaide.

The Offence

 There are a number of situations where you may be taken to have assaulted another.

You are deemed to have committed an assault against the victim if you, without the consent of the victim, do any of the following acts:

  • Intentionally applies force (directly or indirectly) to the victim; or
  • Intentionally makes physical contact (directly or indirectly) with the victim knowing that the victim might reasonably object to the contact in the circumstances (whether or not the victim was at the time aware of the contact); or
  • Threatens (by words or conduct) to apply force to the victim (directly or indirectly), and, there are reasonable grounds for the victim to believe that the person making the threat is in a position to carry out the threat and intended to do so, or, there is a real possibility that the person would carry out that threat; or
  • The person does an act in which he intended to apply force (directly or indirectly) to the victim; or
  • Accosts or impedes another person in a threatening manner.
What actions might constitute assault?

The following are some potential examples of an Assault:

  • Punching, hitting or kicking another person without causing bodily harm;
  • Throwing a newspaper at someone knowing the person might object to that;
  • Spitting on another person (this is treated quite seriously);
  • Threatening to cause harm to another person (i.e. producing a knife to someone or pointing a gun); or
  • Where a person approaches another person aggressively or impedes another in a threatening manner.
What is not considered an assault?

Behaviour which falls within the limits of what would be accepted as normal “social interaction” does not amount to assault. This includes conduct such as patting the shoulder of another person to attract attention, or pushing between others to get out of a crowded bus or tram.

Also, conduct that is justified or excused by law cannot amount to assault.

 What are some possible defences to assault?

 The following are some potential defences that may be argued depending on the facts of the situation:

  1. Self-Defence;
  2. Duress;
  3. Necessity;
  4. Accident;
  5. To argue that the conduct lies be within the limits of what would be accepted in the community as normal incidents of social interaction or community life; or
  6. To argue that the conduct has been justified or excused by law.

 Most of these defences are extremely complex and require legal expertise to argue successfully. Contacting an experienced lawyer is imperative.

Intentionally or Recklessly Causing Harm

In SA, a charge of causing harm carries a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment for a basic offence and 13 years imprisonment for an aggravated offence. The gravity of these penalties show that causing harm is a very serious charge. This charge may be further complicated if the offence was committed together with another person. You must seek legal advice immediately to see precisely what the consequences are and how you may defend your charge.

The Offence

There are two offence categories for causing harm. A person will be guilty of causing harm if they caused harm to another by:

  1. Intending to the cause harm; or
  2. Was reckless in doing so.

This means that whether you intended to cause harm to the victim, or whether you were reckless in causing the harm to the victim, you are still guilty of this offence.

This offence, in some cases may be difficult for the prosecution to prove. For example, it may be easier to prove that a person intended to cause harm by looking at the surrounding circumstances of the case (i.e. whether the person used a weapon and the type of weapon like a gun). However, proving recklessness, on the other hand, can be a confusing concept (i.e. how can you prove if someone has been reckless?). Contacting an experienced lawyer is highly recommended if you have been charged with this offence.

The crucial questions to ask will be the degree of injury to the victim, whether the victim is a vulnerable person and whether or not a weapon was used.

Definition of Terms

For this offence to be proven, the prosecution must show that you caused harm to the victim. The definition of harm can be found below:

  • Harm = physical or mental harm (whether temporary or permanent).
  • Mental Harm = psychological harm and does not include emotional reactions such as distress, grief, fear or anger unless they result in psychological harm.
  • Physical Harm = unconsciousness, pain, disfigurement or infection with disease.
What actions might constitute assault causing harm?

Some examples of actions causing physical harm may include:

  • Punching; or
  • Kicking

Some examples of actions causing mental harm include:

  • Locking someone in a closet; or
  • Mental torture
What must the Police prove?

 To be convicted, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You caused physical or mental harm to another person; and
  2. That you did so intentionally or recklessly; and
  3. Without the consent of the victim; and
  4. You did so without lawful excuse or defence.
Will I receive a criminal record for this charge?

Yes. A criminal record is very likely given that the offence involves an assault resulting in injury. The consequences of a criminal record can be serious depending on what you do for a living. Some jobs require you to have no criminal record so this may jeopardize your career. This will also make it difficult to obtain visas for overseas travel. Your best course of action is to speak with an assault Lawyer Adelaide as soon as possible.

Possible Defenses

 Some possible defenses to a causing harm charge include but are not limited to:

  • Self Defense;
  • Duress; or
  • Necessity.

 More information on defenses can be found on the defences page.

Intentionally or Recklessly Causing Serious Harm

In SA, a charge of causing serious harm carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for a basic offence and 25 years imprisonment for an aggravated offence. The gravity of these penalties show that causing harm is a very serious charge. This charge may be further complicated if the offence was committed together with another person. You must seek legal advice immediately to see precisely what the consequences are and how you may defend your charge.

However, for this offence the court may be allowed to impose a penalty exceeding the prescribed maximum penalty in cases where a victim suffers such serious harm that the director of public prosecutions (DPP) feels a higher sentence is warranted. So, this means that people could face higher sentencing than the maximum amount.

 The Offence

 A person who causes serious harm to another, intending to cause serious harm or is reckless in doing so, is guilty of this offence.

Therefore, the offence needs to be split in two sub-categories:

Intentionally Causing Serious Harm

The intention for causing serious harm can be inferred from the surrounding circumstances of the attack including any threat and the use of a weapon. Factors that may indicate intention include:

  • A repeated or planned attack;
  • Deliberate selection of a weapon;
  • Making prior threats;
  • Kicking the victim in the head (shows that you would like to injure them).

Recklessly Causing Serious Harm

A person may be reckless in causing serious harm if the person is aware of a substantial risk that their conduct could result in serious harm and nevertheless decided to engage in the conduct despite that risk without a reasonable excuse. This is very difficult to prove as it may require trying to work out what the person was thinking at the time of the act. This may be very difficult.

What is serious harm?

Serious harm includes harm that endangers a person’s life, or consists of or results in serious and protracted impairment of a physical or mental function, or harm that consists of or results in serious disfigurement. Serious harm may not need to be permanent.

Some examples of injuries that the court has found to constitute serious harm include:

  • Severe lacerations (or stab wounds) that require large number of stiches, nerve reconstruction and/or surgery;
  • Brain damage;
  • Infecting someone with HIV;
  • Facial fractures and lacerations requiring surgery.

 

What if there was more than one attacker?

If a victim suffers from serious harm as a result of multiple acts of harm in the same incident, a person who commits any of the acts causing harm may be taken to have caused serious harm even though their conduct may not have amounted to the serious harm. This means all attackers in these circumstances may be equally guilty of the offence. This of course depends on the circumstances of your case.

What must the Prosecution prove?

 To be convicted of the offence, the prosecution must establish beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You caused a person to sustain serious harm;
  2. You intended or were reckless in causing that harm; and
  3. You did so without lawful excuse.
How can I defend this charge?

 You may defend this charge by:

  • Arguing that the resulting injury is not serious harm;
  • To argue that you did not intend to cause serious harm;
  • Maintaining your innocence if you did not commit the offence;
  • To argue that you were not reckless in causing serious harm; or
  • To raise any defences such as self-defense, necessity or duress.

These offences are serious – you should speak to a specialist Assault Lawyer Adelaide now.

Endangering life or creating risk of harm

In SA, the maximum penalty for endangering life is 15 years for a basic offence and 18 years for an aggravated offence. This offence is treated very seriously in SA.

The Offence

This offence is broken up into three different types of offences:

The first is where a person, without lawful excuse, does an act or makes an omission knowing that the act or omission is likely to endanger the life of another and intending to endanger their life or was recklessly indifferent as to whether the life of another is endangered.

The second is where a person, without lawful excuse, does an act or makes an omission knowing that the act or omission is likely to cause serious harm to another and intending to cause such harm or being recklessly indifferent as to whether such harm is caused.

The third is where a person, without lawful excuse, does an act or makes an omission knowing that the act or omission is likely to cause harm to another and intending to cause such harm or being recklessly indifferent as to whether such harm is caused.

This is a complex charge and you will need legal representation – contact Assault Lawyer Adelaide now.

Do I need a lawyer to represent me for any of the above Assault charges?

 Yes. There are many defenses to argue to successfully beat an assault charge. If you are worried about imprisonment, fines or having a criminal record, we urge that you contact a lawyer immediately. Our solicitors specialize in these matters and will use their experience and expertise to lead you through the process to the best possible outcome. Remember, all cases are arguable!

Where to Next?

In South Australia, you can see that these offences are treated very seriously. It is therefore important to get the best legal advice as early as possible. Call the best – Call Liptak Lawyers on (08) 8366 6584

Other defence information is available here

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