Assault is a very serious offence in Queensland and the consequences of a conviction for this type of offence can be devastating. It is therefore important that you know your rights and what options are available from a very early stage.
What is Assault?
‘Assault’ occurs when a person strikes, touches, moves or otherwise applies force of any kind to another person without consent. The application of the force can be either direct or indirect and the mere attempt or threat of assault can be enough.
There are various assault charges including the relatively minor offence of common assault to the much more serious offence of assault occasioning bodily harm.
Assault charges are either heard in the Magistrates Court or the District Court, depending on the actual charge and the seriousness of the offence.
In Queensland, the most ‘basic’ form of assault is a charge of common assault. A person will be charged with common assault if they have unlawfully assaulted another person but the other person has suffered little or no physical harm. A common example is when a person punches another person but the other person may only suffer slight pain.
A person can also be charged with common assault if they threatened to harm another person and the threats created a fear of violence in the victim’s mind.
Assaults Occasioning Bodily Harm
The offence of Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm is similar to an offence of common assault however in this case, there needs to be some evidence of actual bodily harm that has been suffered by the victim. It is therefore not enough that the victim felt some pain or discomfort as a result of the assault. Examples of bodily harm include scratches and cuts which have been inflicted during an assault. Interestingly, bodily harm can also include the causation of any hysterical and nervous condition, meaning that the bodily harm does not need to be physical but can also be psychological.
If the offender was (or pretended to be) armed or with another person, the offence is considered to be more serious and the penalties increase considerably.
A person will be charged with serious assault if they assault another person and any of the following apply:
- The accused committed the assault with intent to commit a crime or with intent to resist arrest or detention;
- The accused assaulted, resisted or wilfully obstructed a police officer;
- The accused assaulted any person who was performing a duty imposed by law or who was performing a duty imposed by law;
- The accused assaulted any person in pursuance of any unlawful conspiracy respecting any manufacture, trade, business or occupation;
- The victim was 60 years or older;
- The victim relied on a guide, hearing or assistance dog, wheelchair or other remedial device.
The charge of serious assault therefore applies to situations where a person of a particular class or occupation is assaulted.
A common example of a serious assault offence occurs when a person spits on a police officer. This situation usually arises when a person is in the process of being arrested or detained and they spit at the officer out of anger, frustration or otherwise. This particular behaviour is seen as being extremely serious and sentences of actual imprisonment are not unusual.
At Harper Finch Lawyers, we are trained to look for any defences that may apply to a charge of assault so that we can prepare the best defence possible for your assault case.There are a variety of defence options that might be available for your case.
Some of the defence options include:
When it comes to self-defence, the conduct will need to have been necessary to defend either yourself or another person. The assault which you inflicted will also need to be a reasonable response in those circumstances. The persons involved and the situation would be taken into account when deciding if you have an adequate case for self-defence.
Lack of Intent
If the assault that occurred was an accident and you did not mean to harm or injure the victim, this would be considered a lack of intent from you. This is a solid defence option that should be upheld through the presentation of reasonable evidence.
Duress is the unlawful coercion of someone to undertake in an act that is against their will or better judgment. In an assault charge case, if the complainant threatened to harm you or your family, thus provoking you to assault that individual, your may be able to rely on the defence of duress.
Necessity involves undertaking in an unlawful act that could not be avoided but can be justified because it prevented more serious harm. With regards to an assault charge, an urgent situation would need to arise where either you or someone else was in immediate peril. Your actions in this circumstance would be out of necessity.
The range of possible penalties depends on the type of offence being alleged.
For a charge of common assault, the maximum penalty is 3 years imprisonment. The maximum penalty for an offence of assault occasioning bodily harm is 7 years or 10 years if the offender is or pretends to be armed or in company at the time.
Recent changes to the legislation mean that if it is alleged that you were intoxicated at the time of the offence, you must receive a community service order in addition to any other penalty you may receive.
Assault charges are extremely serious and you should not attempt to represent yourself. If you have been charged with any assault offence, the best thing that you can do is contact us immediately for expert legal advice.
How Harper Finch Lawyers Can Help You
Have peace of mind knowing you are in good hands with an assault lawyer by your side who specialises in criminal law. If you are convicted of assault, you face very serious penalties including a very real possibility of imprisonment. Furthermore, a conviction on your criminal history for this type of offence can have ongoing negative consequences for you. For example, it may make it hard for you to obtain employment or to travel overseas.
We can help steer you through what can be a confusing and stressful period of your life and ensure that you receive the best outcome possible. There are a range of benefits you receive by choosing one of our assault lawyers to back you up in court:
There is no substitute for having strong legal support when heading to court for an assault charge. You will not need to try and wrap your head around the jargon and complexities of an assault charge. We will explain every detail to you at every step of the way so that you know exactly what is happening with your case at all times.
Credibility In Court
Our lawyers appear in courts throughout Queensland, which means the judges and magistrates know who we are. We have worked hard to build up a trustworthy and reliable reputation which means that you gain more credibility when represented by Harper Finch Lawyers.
Our assault lawyers have defended many cases. We have the knowledge and experience to construct a solid defence for your case. All options and possibilities will be covered when developing the appropriate defence for your case to ensure you receive the best outcome possible.
Criminal Law Experts
As experts in criminal law, you can trust that we know what needs to be done and said to achieve the result that you’re after, regardless of whether you decide to plead guilty or not guilty. We have access to the best resources and the most experienced barristers to benefit your case and provide the best possible outcome.
We encourage transparency between our lawyers and clients. When choosing our criminal lawyers, you can expect to have any relevant legal terms or concepts explained to you in clear terms. We deliver assistance and superior communication throughout the legal process from our initial conference all the way through to the very end of your case. .
Contact Harper Finch Lawyers – Brisbane’s Expert Assault Lawyers
If you are looking for a criminal lawyer in Brisbane or elsewhere in Queensland who will fight hard to protect your rights, turn to Harper Finch Lawyers.
Our assault lawyers will take the time to understand your situation, develop a solid case and defend you fearlessly in court. You can trust that when you work with Harper Finch Lawyers, we will fight to get the very best possible result for you in court.