Common Assault in Tasmania
Updated on Dec 22, 2022 • 4 min read • 332 views • Copy Link
Common Assault in Tasmania
In Tasmania, there are a range of criminal charges that can be laid in relation to an assault. These include common assault, aggravated assault and assault on a pregnant woman. This page deals with common assault in Tasmania.
Legislation governing common assault in Tasmania
Tasmania has two offences of common assault.
- Common assault is an indictable offence under section 184 of the Criminal Code 1924.
- Common assault is a summary offence under section 35 of the Police Offences Act 1935.
What is common assault?
Common assault does not require the victim to have been injured or even for any physical contact to have occurred.
A person is guilty of common assault if they intentionally or recklessly:
- Touch another person without the other person’s consent and without a lawful excuse;
- Cause another person to apprehend the immediate application of force without the person’s consent and without a lawful excuse.
A common assault may consist of a push, punch, slap, or kick. It may also consist of an act that does not involve physical contact such as raising a fist as if to hit someone.
Intentional or reckless?
An example of an intentional common assault is where a person punches another person after an argument.
An example of a reckless common assault is where a person swings their fists around in a crowded area, where there is a likelihood that they will hit someone.
Penalty for common assault in Tasmania
Common assault under the Police Offences Act attracts a maximum penalty of a fine of 20 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months. If the offence is committed under circumstances of aggravation, the maximum penalty is a fine of 50 penalty units or two years imprisonment.
Common assault under the Criminal Code is a crime and carries the standard maximum penalty for an indictable offence in Tasmania, which is 21 years imprisonment.
Common assault under the Police Offences Act is a summary offence and is dealt with in the Magistrates Court or Children’s Court.
Defences to common assault in Tasmania
A person who is charged with common assault in Tasmania may rely on a range of legal defences. They may also rely on a factual defence, such as an alibi.
Some legal defences to common assault are outlined below.
The defence of self-defence
Under section 46 of the Criminal Code 1924, a person is not guilty of an offence if they committed an act in self-defence. A court will find a person not guilty on the basis of self-defence if it is satisfied that they:
- Reasonably believed that their actions were necessary in self-defence;
- Used a level of force that was proportionate to the threat they perceived at the time.
The defence of domestic discipline
Under section 50 of the Criminal Code 1924, a person is not guilty of an offence if they used force on a child for the purposes of disciplining the child if:
- The person was the child’s parent or was acting in the place of a parent;
- The level of force used was reasonable in the circumstances.
The defence of duress
A person is not guilty of a common assault if they committed the act under duress. A person acts under duress when they carry out an act only because of fear that a threat being made by another person will be carried out if they do not comply with the other person’s demands.
The defence of immature age
A person cannot be found guilty of an offence if they are below the age of ten. A person between 10 and 14 can only be found guilty of an offence if the court is satisfied that they had the capacity to understand the nature of their actions.
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