Assault is defined in Section 20 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA).
If any purposeful and unwanted physical force is used against a victim, it is considered assault [s 20(1)(a)], explains the Criminal lawyer Adelaide. Punching, hitting, or kicking someone, for example can be considered assault as per the Criminal lawyers Adelaide. Direct or indirect force can be utilised. For example, if a person drops a kid they are carrying as a result of an assault, that is also an assault on the child — even though the child was not directly harmed.
Adelaide criminal lawyers further explains that assault also occurs when there is any purposeful and unwanted direct or indirect contact with another person, regardless of how little the contact is, when the perpetrator knows that the victim may reasonably object to the interaction [s 20(1)(b)].
Even if there is no physical contact, assault can occur. If a threat to use force is made, and the victim has reasonable grounds to think that the person can carry out the threat or that there is a good chance that they will [section 20(1)(c)]. For example, if someone brandishes a rifle or brandishes a knife.
A person who accosts (approaches and confronts forcefully) or impedes (blocks the way of) another in a menacing manner can be charged with assault [s 20(1)(e)].
What constitutes an act of assault?
There is a distinction drawn between behaviour that is within the bounds of what is considered typical social contact or communal interaction. Assault does not apply to this type of behaviour.
Acts such as tapping another person on the shoulder to draw their attention or shoving others aside to get off a packed bus are examples of such behaviour. Although these acts entail the purposeful touching of somebody without their agreement, they are not considered assault if they are done in a non-hostile and non-offensive manner.
What Is The Penalty For An Assault Charge?
A fundamental assault carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail.
The maximum penalty for an aggravated offence is three years in prison.
The offence will be made more serious if:
the accused used or displayed a weapon; the victim was a police officer, prison officer, or other law enforcement officer on duty; the accused committed the crime in order to prevent or discourage the victim from pursuing legal action; the accused knew the victim was under the age of 12 or over the age of 60; the victim was the accused’s spouse, domestic partner, or child; the accused was in a position of authority over the victim; or the victim was vulnerable.
In addition, if the offence is made worse by the use or threat of an offensive weapon, the maximum penalty is four years in jail.
Assault Causing Harm
A simple attack that produces harm has a maximum sentence of three years in jail.
The maximum sentence for an aggravated assault inflicting harm is four years in prison.
The maximum penalty is five years in jail if the assault causes hurt and is worsened by the use of, or threat of use of, an offensive weapon.
What Are The Possible Defences For Assault Charges?
If the victim consented; the act was not voluntary; you were acting in self-defense; you were acting in defence of another; or you were defending your property, you may have a defence to the charge.