Common Assault in Victoria
Updated on Dec 22, 2022 • 3 min read • 372 views • Copy Link
Common Assault in Victoria
In Victoria, there is a range of criminal offences involving assaults. This includes common assault, assault with intent to commit an indictable offence and assault on an emergency worker. This page deals with common assault in Victoria.
Legislation governing common assault in Victoria
What is a common assault?
A common assault does not require the victim to suffer any injury. It does not even require there to be any physical contact between the offender and the victim.
A person is guilty of common assault in Victoria if they intentionally or recklessly:
- Touch another person without the consent of the other person and without a lawful excuse;
- Cause another person to apprehend immediate physical contact without the consent of the other person and without a lawful excuse.
A common assault may consist of pushing, punching or slapping a person. It may also consist of an act that doesn’t involve physical contact, such as raising a fist at someone and causing them to think they were about to be hit.
Intention or recklessness?
An example of a common assault committed intentionally is where a person punches another person during an argument.
An example of a common assault committed recklessly is where a person throws an object towards a group of people, knowing that it may hit someone.
Penalty for common assault in Victoria
Although common assault carries a maximum penalty of three months imprisonment, courts may impose a non-custodial sentence. This may be a fine, a good behaviour bond or a community corrections order.
Defences to common assault in Victoria
A person charged with common assault in Victoria, may have a legal defence available to them. Some of these are summarised below. An accused person may also rely on a factual defence, such as an alibi.
The defence of self-defence
A person is not guilty of an offence if they commit an act in self-defence. If a court is satisfied that the accused reasonably believed that their actions were necessary in self-defence and that their actions were proportionate to the threat they perceived, it will find the accused not guilty.
The defence of duress
A person is not guilty of common assault if they acted under duress. A person acts under duress if they commit 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 reasonable chastisement
A person is not guilty of an assault against a child if they were punishing the child for misbehaviour and:
- They were the parent or acting for the parent of the child;
- The level of force used was reasonable having regard to the age, maturity and health of the child and the nature of the misbehaviour.
The defence of immature age
A person is not guilty of an offence if they were below the age of criminal liability when the offence was allegedly committed. The age of criminal liability is ten in Victoria. A person under 14 can be found guilty of an offence only if the court is satisfied that they had the capacity to understand the nature of their actions.
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