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Sexual Assault in Queensland

Sexual Assault in Queensland

In Queensland, the Criminal Code Act 1899 contains sexual offences including rape and sexual assault. While rape is an offence that involves non-consensual sexual intercourse, sexual assault includes any assault that is indecent in nature. This offence is known as ‘indecent assault’ in some jurisdictions. This page deals with sexual assault in Queensland, penalties, defences and what to do if you are facing charges.

What is sexual assault in Queensland?

Under section 352 of the Criminal Code Act 1899, a person is guilty of sexual assault if they:

  • Indecently assault a person; or
  • Procure another person to commit or to witness an act of gross indecency without the other person’s consent.

Penalty for sexual assault in Qld

The maximum penalty that applies to sexual assault offences depends on the nature of the assault. While a maximum penalty of imprisonment for ten years applies to the offence in its simple form, longer maximum penalties apply in particular situations.

If the offence involves bringing the mouth of a person into contact with the genitals of another person, the maximum penalty that applies is imprisonment for 14 years.

A maximum penalty of life imprisonment applies if the offence involves any of the following circumstances:

  • The offender is, or pretends to be, armed with a weapon;
  • The offender is in company with another person;
  • The offence involves the penetration of the offender’s vagina, vulva or anus by the victim with anything other than a penis;
  • The offence involves procuring a person to penetrate the vagina, vulva or anus of a person with anything other than a penis.

Jurisdiction for sexual assaults in Queensland

An offence of sexual assault in its simple form can be finalized in the Magistrates Court. However, if the accused wishes to have the matter dealt with on indictment, it will be dealt with in the District Court.

All other sexual assault matters must be finalised in the District Court. However, all criminal matters begin in the Magistrates Court and a sexual assault matter must go through a number of procedural stages in a lower court before being transferred to the District Court to be finalized in a plea hearing or a trial.

If you have been charged with a sexual assault offence in Queensland, Go To Court Lawyers will provide you with thorough, timely and specialist advice. They will review the allegations carefully and advise you on the strength of the case against you, whether there is an available defence and the likely penalty range if you are found guilty.

If you decide to plead guilty, Go To Court Lawyers will gather supporting material to ensure your case is presented to the court in the best possible light. This may include obtaining medical or psychological reports, character references and evidence of steps you have taken to address your offending.

Defences to sexual assault

A person charged with sexual assault may rely on a legal or a factual defence.

Consent

A person has a full defence to a sexual assault charge if the alleged victim consented to the sexual act. If the person who was allegedly assaulted, or who was allegedly procured for an act of gross indecency, consented to the activity then no offence has occurred.

Under section 348A of the Criminal Code Act 1899, if an accused person did an act under an honest and reasonable but mistaken belief that they gave consent to the act. In assessing whether an accused’s belief was honest and reasonable, the court will have regard to anything they said or did to establish whether the other person was consenting.

If an accused person is voluntarily intoxicated (meaning they became intoxicated from choice), their intoxication may not be taken into account when deciding whether a belief was reasonable.

Factual defences

A person may also rely on a factual defence in response to a sexual assault charge.

This may be that:

  • The alleged offence did not occur;
  • The accused is not the person who committed the alleged offence.

Applying for bail on a sexual assault charge in Queensland

If you have been remanded in custody in Queensland on a charge of sexual assault, you may want to apply for bail. Go To Court Lawyers can help you to do so. Decisions about bail in Queensland are made under the Bail Act 1980.

Under section 16 of the Bail Act 1980, person will be granted bail unless there is an unacceptable risk that they will:

  • Fail to attend court
  • Commit an offence
  • Endanger the safety or welfare of a person
  • Interfere with witnesses or obstruct the course of justice.

If you require legal advice or representation in any sexual assault legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Content Editor

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Content Editor

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.

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