Terms like assault and battery can be intimidating, but these charges are amongst the most common in Australia.
What is assault and why is it sometimes called common assault?
A charge of assault typically occurs when someone gets physically hurt as a result of another person’s actions or where a person has caused someone to fear violence.
Assault is a blanket term that covers the various different types of assaults that exist under Australian and NSW state law, including:
· Common assault
· Aggravated assault
Assault doesn’t cover situations where someone is injured as a result of an accident. To be found guilty of assault, the actions that lead to another person being injured or fearful must have been intentional or reckless.
In law, ‘reckless’ means that you recognise harm may result from your actions but continue to do them anyway.
What’s common assault?
A person might be charged with common assault where their actions cause fear but don’t result in any significant physical harm.
For example, if you swing to hit someone but miss, you may be charged with common assault. (You can read this article for more examples of common assault)
The maximum sentence for common assault is two years imprisonment, but you may just be fined instead.
Why did I get charged with assault when I didn’t hit anyone?
Fear of the threat of violence is all that is legally required to charge someone with assault.
Physical contact is not required.
This means you can be charged with assault even if you weren’t in the same room as the person you allegedly assaulted.
A judge or jury will need to find that the fear was reasonable in the circumstances. So, if a ‘reasonable’ person wouldn’t have been afraid in whichever situation led to the assault charges, it’s unlikely you’ll be found guilty of assault.
Again, having an experienced criminal lawyer on your side will give you the best chance of telling your side of the story to the court.
What does it mean to get charged with battery?
If you’re charged with battery, it means that the person you (allegedly) assaulted was physically or psychologically injured during the events that led to the charge.
For example, if you push someone and they fall and break their arm, you could be charged with battery.
The extent of the injuries typically determine what the penalty will be. Sometimes, your lawyer might be able to negotiate for the charges to be reduced to common assault if the evidence against you isn’t strong.
What is aggravated assault and how is it different from assault?
Aggravated assault generally refers to more serious assaults. The use of a weapon, for example, may make an assault aggravated.
Are there any Defences to an Assault Charge?
There are several defences to assault charges, two of the most common defences relied on are:
If a person agrees to be physically touched, but they are injured as a result of it, you might be able to raise a defence of consent. This is often the case where the injury happens during sport.
There are limits to the level of injury a person can consent to. So, the defence of consent doesn’t cover situations where the injured person is severely injured.
Self defence may apply if you felt your actions were necessary to defend yourself or another person or to defend property from being damaged or taken.
If you’ve been charged with assault, you should speak with one of Altria Law’s experienced criminal lawyers to work out your best course of action.
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