Assault Charges in South Australia
Updated on Dec 22, 2022 • 3 min read • 525 views • Copy Link
Assault Charges in South Australia
Assault is an offence that falls into the category of crimes against the person. There are numerous forms that assault offences may take. South Australia has a number of assault offences that carry different maximum penalties depending on the aggravating factors involved and the level of harm caused to the victim. Assault offences, and the penalties they attract, are set out in in the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 and the Summary Offences Act 1953.
Assault offences in South Australia include:
- basic assault (section 20 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act);
- aggravated assault (section 20 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act);
- assaults with intent (section 270B of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act).
Basic assault in South Australia
A basic assault is an offence under section 20 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act. A person is guilty of an offence under this section if they:
- intentionally apply force to another person;
- intentionally make physical contact with another person, knowing the person might reasonable object;
- threaten to apply force to another person.
- does an act of which the purpose is to apply force to another person;
- accosts or impedes another person in a threatening manner.
A person is not guilty of an assault if their actions falls within the ambit of common intercourse of life (such as pushing past someone in a crowd) or where their conduct is excused or justified by law (such as carrying out a lawful arrest).
Assault is punishable by a maximum penalty of imprisonment for two years.
Aggravated assault in South Australia
An assault is aggravated if it is committed under aggravating circumstances – that is, circumstances that make it more serious. An aggravated assault carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment.
Aggravating circumstances include:
- the use of a weapon;
- the offence was committed in the course of deliberately and systematically inflicting severe pain on the victim;
- the offence was committed against a police officer or community corrections officer;
- the offence was committed in order to try to prevent the victim from taking or participating in legal proceedings;
- the victim was under 14 or over 60;
- the victim and the offender were or had been in a relationship.
Assault with intent
Under section 270B of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act, a person who commits an assault with intent to commit another offence is guilty of an offence punishable by up to seven years imprisonment (or for the maximum period that applies to an attempt to commit the principle offence, whichever is greater).
An indecent assault is an assault that is sexual in nature or where the victim is touched in an area of the body that is considered indecent – the breasts of a female, the genitals or the bottom. In South Australia, indecent assault carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for eight years where the assault is basic, or ten years where the assault is aggravated.
Defences to assault in South Australia
There are a number of legal defences that can be relied on in relation to a charge of assault in South Australia. These include self-defence, duress, immature age and mental incompetence. A person who is charged with a criminal offence may also rely on a factual defence – such as an alibi or mistaken identity.
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