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Home Blog Assault Criminal Offences in the Northern Territory (NT)

Assault Criminal Offences in the Northern Territory (NT)

The Criminal Code of the NT makes it an offence to assault anyone, irrespective of their status, age or actions. Assault based offences are serious criminal offences in the Magistrate court, especially those leading to bodily harm.

Section 188 of the Criminal Code recommends a compulsory one-year imprisonment term where no greater punishment is given for an assault.

However, many people may receive a court summons for an assault charge without knowing how they committed such acts. So begs the question;

What is an Assault offence?

Assault offences and details fall under the Criminal Code of NT, especially Section 187 and 188 which states that;

Assault is a;

  1. Direct or Indirect application of unlawful force to a person without their consent
  2. Any Direct or Indirect application of force to another party where the sufferer surrendered consent from threats, fraud or forcefully (weapon)
  3. The accused party attempted and is capable of force over another party. It should be backed by related body movements or threatening words

Section 43AP of the Criminal Code stipulates that only citizens above 10 years can be guilty of an assault charge.

It also stipulates in Section 43AQ that those under the age of 14 may only be found guilty if the prosecution proves that they capable/fully knew of their acts.

Assault offences are serious in nature and therefore will show up on a police check NT and are disclosed in accordance with the spent convictions scheme of the NT.

What are the Penalties for Assaults in NT?

The penalties for assault are very severe, and in most cases long-lasting. For example, a previous assault conviction will remain on your police criminal records checks. Having such records can hamper your chances at any public or paid venture.

Furthermore, an assault conviction may also translate to serious fines and imprisonment terms that are not commuted.

However, all these punishments depend on the “type” of assault case and other factors like;

What are the types of assault cases?

There are several types of assault cases, though their borders are often blurred from one another. In some cases, the prosecution may even seek a hearing from a higher court by lumping extra charges or ingeniously using the technical parts of the legislation to sue for higher.

However, the court listens to all pieces of evidence and arguments before pronouncing the verdict on the Assault case.

When proving an assault case, the prosecution must prove that there was;

  1. Common Assault;
  2. This is the most basic type of assault in NT and is handled summarily in court under Section 188 of the code. It is very commonplace and especially characteristic of bars, clubs, public gatherings, and so on.

    It includes but is not limited to; shoving, kicking, hitting, scuffling, slamming, and threatening another party.

    The Court usually recommends a penalty of a 1-year imprisonment term for those found guilty of common assaults.

    However, it should be clear that only harmful acts or actions that could lead to injury are considered common Assaults. Simple, friendly gestures like patting, beelines, minor pranks are not assault offences

  3. Aggravated Assaults
  4. If the circumstance around a common Assault case changes, the court considers the case to have some “aggravating circumstances”. Assault cases with aggravating circumstances mean some further acts were committed that made the offence graver. Some examples of an aggravating circumstance are;

    • The person assaulted is a female, and the offender is male
    • An adult assaulted a person over 16 years old
    • Assault against aged/vulnerable or children
    • Assaulted a public official because of their position
    • Assaulted out of unlawful conspiracy
    • Indecently assaulted a person
    • Threatened or made use of a weapon for assault
    • Causes harm to the person assaulted
    • Assaulted a person while intending to commit a crime

    Assaults committed with the intention to, or while committing an indictable offence is an aggravating condition. It usually carries a separate penalty of 3 years in addition to penalties for the other indictable crime.

    The maximum penalty for other forms of aggravation or circumstance is 5 years imprisonment term.

  5. Assault leading to Bodily Harm
  6. Under Section 181 of the criminal code, a person causing serious injury to another person faces penalty terms of up to 14 years. However, the court may lessen the jail term depending on factors leading to the event and the degree of harm committed.

    Some example of this assault case includes;

    • Bleeding
    • Wounding
    • Damage to internal organs (Cranium, Skull, etc,)
    • Partial or temporary disfigurement
    • An injury that resulted in the sufferer being unable to complete their routine

    Other forms are serious body injuries which carry relatively higher penalties. Some of these assault cases are Assaults causing;

    • Loss of limb
    • Paralysis
    • Tissue damage
    • Organ damage
    • Causing other Life-endangering injuries.
  7. Assault against workers
  8. There are many categories to this assault-type, each carrying different penalties under Section 188 of the act. It includes;

    • Workers (Section 188A(1) of the Criminal Code)
    • The penalty for assaulting an employee, trainee, contractor, apprentice, volunteer or self-employed person ranges between 2 - 5 years imprisonment term. And 3 - 7 years if they suffer injuries

    • Police and Public officers on duty
    • Assaulting any of these law officers attracts a penalty of 2 -5 years imprisonment term and 3 -7 years if they suffered an injury. However, in cases of injury, it rises to 16 years jail term.

    • Administrator, Judges and Magistrates
    • Assaulting any of these officials while on-duty attracts a maximum punishment of 14 years imprisonment.

    • Flight crew
    • Assaulting or threatening anyone on an aeroplane crew that could affect or alter their duties attracts a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

  9. Sexual Assault
  10. The NT imposes serious, fiercer punishments on those it finds guilty of sexual assault. It also involves all acts of gross indecency (usually nonconsensual)

    Some of them include;

    • Forceful penetration
    • Rape
    • Gross indecency
    • Use of force and threats to achieve sexual acts

    The maximum penalties are;

    • Life imprisonment for Rape or non-consensual sex
    • 14 years for gross indecency
    • 7 years for attempt to perform gross indecency;
    • 14 years if an adult does this to a person under 16 years
    • 14 years if the offender caused harm while performing any of the actions, and 17 years if it was a serious injury.
  11. Stalking and Causing Fear
  12. Furthermore, offences like stalking illegally (no official cause), including causing fear to the person attracts an imprisonment term of 2 years. It increases to 5 years if the assault breached an earlier ruling.

Wrapping Up - Defence of assault charges

If you are charged for an assault offence, Sections 27 through to 31 and many other sections provide useful legal “escape from frivolous” assault charges. However, your best chance is by engaging experienced lawyers. Some defences to explore are;

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