Assault Police (NSW)
In New South Wales, the Crimes Act 1900 contains offences involving assaults on police officers and other offences against police such as hindering police and obstructing police. These offences all carry a maximum penalty of imprisonment. This page deals with assault police offences in New South Wales.
The offence of assault police
Under section 60 of the Crimes Act 1900, it is an offence to hinder, resist, assault, wound or cause grievous bodily harm to a police officer. These offences are committed on a police officer if the victim is a police officer acting in the course of their official duties or if the offence is carried out as a consequence of, or in retaliation for, something that they have done in the execution of their official duties or because they are a police officer.
The provision sets out different maximum penalties that apply to each of these offences and these are set out in the table below.
|Offence||Harm||Level of recklessness||Maximum penalty|
|Hinder or resist police||-||12 months imprisonment, 20 penalty units, or both|
|Assault, stalk, throw a missile at, harass or intimidate||No actual bodily harm||5 years imprisonment|
|During a public disorder, assault, throw a missile at, stalk, harass or intimidate||No actual bodily harm||7 years imprisonment|
|Assault||Actual bodily harm||7 years imprisonment|
|During a public disorder, assault, throw a missile at, stalk, harass or intimidate||Actual bodily harm||9 years imprisonment|
|Wound or cause grievous bodily harm||Wounding or grievous bodily harm||Reckless as to causing actual bodily harm||12 years imprisonment|
|Cause grievous bodily harm||Grievous bodily harm||Reckless as to causing grievous bodily harm||14 years imprisonment|
What actions may amount to assaulting a police officer?
An assault occurs when a person intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend immediate unlawful violence or unauthorised physical contact. Technically, therefore, assault police could consist only of very light physical contact such as a push. In practice, however, a person will usually be charged with assault police if they punch, kick or spit on a police officer. A person who simply makes unwanted physical contact with a police officer is more likely to be charged with the offence of hinder or obstruct police.
It is common for a charge of assault police to arise when someone is arrested and does not comply with the police’s instructions, resists the arrest, and also strikes an officer. In this situation, a charge of assault police will often be laid as well as a charge of hindering police.
Defence to assault police charges
A person charged with an assault police offence may have a legal or a factual defence available to them. This may be that:
- The alleged act did not occur;
- The accused was not the person who committed the alleged act;
- The police officer was not acting in their lawful duties;
- The accused was acting under duress;
- The accused was acting out of necessity.
Murder of police officer
- While the police officer was executing his or her duties; or
- And a consequence of or in retaliation for actions done in execution of their duty; and
- The offender knew or ought reasonably to have know that the victim was a police officer; and
A person sentenced under this provision must serve their sentence in prison for the term of their natural life. This provision does not apply if at the time of the offence, the offender was under 18 or had a significant cognitive impairment.
Other related assault offences
The Crimes Act 1900 also contains the following offences, relating to assaults against emergency workers and those assisting law enforcement officers:
- Assault on person aiding law enforcement officer (section 60AB);
- Assault on frontline emergency worker (section 60AD);
- Assault on frontline health worker (section 60AE);
- Assault on person connected with law enforcement officer (section 60B).
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