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3 Key Points About The Lowest Charge Of Common Assault

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“Common assault” refers to an act of physical or threatened violence against another person that causes them to fear for their safety or results in harm. 

It is important to note that physical contact or injury is not a requirement for a common assault charge; merely causing fear of immediate harm can be enough to warrant this charge. 

Common assault typically involves minimal or no physical harm, distinguishing it from more severe assault charges.

What Are The Examples Of Common Assault?

Here are some examples of common assault in the Australian context:

  • Threatening gestures: A gesture that implies an intent to harm, such as raising a fist or pretending to throw a punch, can be considered a common assault if it causes the other person to fear immediate harm.
  • Verbal threats: If a person verbally threatens to harm another person and that person sincerely fears that the threat will be carried out immediately, this can be considered a common assault.
  • Intimidating behaviour: Assault can also involve acting aggressively or violating another person’s personal space without making physical contact.
  • Attempted physical contact: A failed attempt to strike, shove, or grab someone is considered a common assault if the victim fears imminent harm.
  • Light physical contact: In some instances, minimal physical contacts, such as a light shove or tap, can be considered a common assault if it causes the victim to fear imminent injury.

What Are The Common Assault Legislations Across Australian States and Territories?

While the general concept of common assault is consistent across Australia, the specific legislation and penalties may vary between states and territories. 

Some examples of common assault legislation in different regions of Australia include:

  1. New South Wales: In New South Wales, common assault is covered by Section 61 of the Crimes Act of 1900. The AVO legislation in NSW for common assault carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison if prosecuted in the District Court and one year if tried in the Local Court. 
  2. Victoria: Common assault falls under Section 23 of the Summary Offences Act 1966. The maximum penalty for common assault in Victoria is 15 penalty units or three months imprisonment.
  3. Queensland: Section 245 of the Queensland Criminal Code 1899 defines common assault. Queensland’s maximum sentence for common assault is three years in prison.
  4. South Australia: In South Australia, section 20 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act of 1935 covers common assault. South Australia’s maximum penalty for common assault is two years in prison.
  5. Western Australia: In WA, common assault is governed by Section 313 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913. The maximum penalty for common assault in Western Australia is 18 months imprisonment and a fine of up to 18,000 penalty units.
  6. Tasmania: Section 35 of the Criminal Code Act of 1924 addresses common assault in Tasmania. In Tasmania, the maximum penalty for common assault is one year in prison or a fine.
  7. Australian Capital Territory: Common assault is regulated by Section 26 of the Crimes Act of 1900 in the ACT. Two years of imprisonment is the maximum penalty for common assault in the Australian Capital Territory.
  8. Northern Territory: In the NT, section 188 of the Criminal Code Act defines common assault. In the Northern Territory, the maximum penalty for common assault is one year in prison and a fine of up to 100 penalty units.

What Are The Factors Influencing the Severity of Penalties?

Several factors can influence the severity of penalties for what is the lowest charge of assault charge in Australia, the Common Assault. These factors may include:

  • Prior criminal history: A person with a history of violent crimes may receive a harsher sentence than someone without convictions.
  • The nature of the incident: The circumstances surrounding the assault, such as the level of fear or apprehension induced, may influence the severity of the punishment.
  • The relationship between the parties: Assaults involving domestic or family violence may be subject to harsher penalties or additional accusations.
  • The victim’s age: Assaults on vulnerable individuals, such as infants or older people, could result in harsher punishments.
  • Presence of aggravating or mitigating factors: When determining penalties, the court may consider remorse, provocation, or the mental health of the defendant.   

In matters involving an assault charge, our AVO lawyers often recommend that clients prepare a letter of apology which is provided to the court at sentencing.  This letter will show the court that the individual is aware of the gravity of your actions, is taking responsibility, and will make an effort not to offend in the future. 

Also read: 6 Factors Behind Dropped Common Assault Charges

Conclusion

Question: What is the lowest charge of assault?

Answer: Common assault occurs when a person intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence.

It is important to note that physical contact or injury is not a requirement for a common assault charge; merely causing fear of immediate harm can be enough to warrant this charge.

Common assault typically involves minimal or no physical harm, distinguishing it from more severe assault charges.

Need An Expert Help On Common Assault Charges?

At Justice Family Lawyers, we understand the complexity of what is the lowest charge of assault charge in Australia, the Common Assault, and we are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality legal advice and representation. 

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