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Assault Criminal Offences in South Australia (SA)

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Australian National Character Check (ANCC) makes every effort to provide updated and accurate information to its customers. However due to the continuously changing nature of legislations for the Commonwealth and various States and Territories, it is inevitable that some information may not be up to date. The information on the website is general information only. The contents on the website do not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, suitability, accuracy or availability with respect to the information.

All South Australia residents and citizens are guided by the same laws and rules. And part of which includes the dignity and respect of every person. Assault Crimes are easily the most common crimes in Australia, and while few are underreported, those handled in the court may end in serious punishments for offenders.

There are various ways or degrees an offender can commit in South Australia, as detailed in the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) and the Summary Offenders Act 1953 (SA). Punishments for Assault offences will vary depending on the seriousness of the offence and degree of injury to the sufferer.

If you receive a court summons for an assault case, always contact an experienced legal team. It will save you a whole lot, and at worst mitigate your punishments (if you are guilty).

What is an Assault by South Australia Criminal Law?

Section 20 that provides the legislation against assault is violated if;

  1. A person or group applies force on the victim; kick blows, shove, stabs, prods, etc.
    1. The act was nonconsensual, or consent was obtained by fraud
    2. The act was intentional or premeditated or accidental
    3. Direct or indirect
    4. Led to injury; serious or mild
  2. Threatens/attempts to carry out any of (a-e) above
  3. Almost all harmful actions, threatening words to another non-consensual person is a form of assault. However, the prosecution must prove that the degree of the assault is the same as the charge. And in the case of (2) must prove that the accused was capable and willing to commit the act.

Are there penalties for assault?

The South Australian laws frown severely at assaults especially those involving public workers, aged and leading to serious injuries. However, the punishment ordered by the court depends on the severity of the injury and the type of assault.

What are the different types of assault?

  1. Basic assault
  2. These are characterized by banal scuffles, threats, arguments, and club fights. it also extends to making direct or indirect contact leading to injury or fear without the other's contact.

    However, the court will not consider threats that look impossible as a case for assault. An example can be where an angry little boy threatens an older man.

    Indirect assault can also count as part of your charges for an assault case. An example can be where your reckless driving causes another road user to make a mistake and injure others.

    Generally accepted behaviours and norms however do not qualify for an assault case. The court may strike out such cases once it is read, and discharge the accused. Some examples of this can be a gentle tap to get your attention, a prod on the shoulder, making a beeline, or empty drunk words.

    What is the penalty of a Basic assault?

    A basic assault is one that hardly leads to a serious injury, and has no lasting impact on the sufferer. The maximum penalty for basic assault is;

    • 2 years imprisonment
    • 3 years imprisonment (where there are major injuries)
  3. Aggravated Assault
  4. Aggravated assaults can be Basic assault, but committed with more intensity and under special circumstances. Some examples of an aggravated assault case are;

    • The use of a weapon, especially to harm
    • Threatening the person with a weapon
    • Assault where the victim is 12 years or younger or 60 years and older
    • Where the victim was a former close relative; sister, spouse, child
    • Causing deliberate injuries out of malice, revenge, or so on
    • Use of torture or serious psychological manipulations; stalking, spamming, etc

    What are the penalties for an aggravated assault?

    The maximum penalty for these assaults depends on so many factors that make it an aggravated assault.

    • Offenders get a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment (for generally aggravated offences)
    • 4 years if the offence was committed with a weapon
    • 5 years if actual harm was done to the person.
  5. Other Crimes of assault
    • Assaulting a Police officer
    • Police officers are part of the legislative arm of the government that upholds the laws of South Australia. Any form of assault on a Police officer or group is treated as a serious criminal offence. Some forms of assault include;

      • Spitting on an officer
      • Hitting an officer
      • Pepper spraying an officer
      • Threatening a Police officer
      • Disarming an officer
      • Kicking, injuring, engaging in a shoot-out will constitute aggravated offences in larger charges.

      The case is treated as a summary offence, and those found guilty by the magistrate in SA get a 2 years imprisonment term or a $10,000 fine.

    • Causing physical or mental harm – serious assault
    • This category covers all assaults with the intent of accidentally causing mental or physical harm to the sufferer. The legislation of South Australia provides special laws for such kinds of assaults irrespective of the grounds or reasons (religious, ethnic, political).

      Although they may be similar to basic or aggravated assaults, the penalties are usually more severe.

      Examples of physical harms include;

      • Unconsciousness
      • Pain or disfigurement
      • Total incapacitation
      • Loss to limb or partial damage to body parts
      • Bleeding or damage to internal organs

      Mental harms include;

      • Psychological duress,
      • Traumas
      • Extreme abuse at work, school or gathering

      The maximum penalty for a basic offence of this nature is 10 years imprisonment term (for intent to cause harm)

      A maximum penalty of 5 years if you did so recklessly or accidentally

      Aggravated offences of these types; use of a weapon, relationship to the victim, and co

      13 years imprisonment term for intentional harm and 7 years imprisonment term for acts of recklessness

      For assault cases causing serious/partial/total disfigurement/life-endangering injuries (Rape, Auto accidents);

      • The offenders will receive a maximum imprisonment term of 20 years for intentional acts
      • 15 years for reckless or accidental causes

      Aggravated offences of these kinds result in a 25 years imprisonment term for intentional acts, or otherwise 19 years.

Assault with more intent

This kind of case covers assaults that follow a separate offence against another person. Some examples are assaults during or leading to;

  • Theft
  • Damage to property
  • Commit murder
  • Rape

The maximum penalty for these offences is at least a 7 years imprisonment term (including other penalties).

What happens at court for an assault case?

In court, the prosecuting team must prove with all available and related shreds of evidence that the accused willingly or intentionally committed or attempted to commit the offence. Usually, the prosecution may even lump extra charges to ensure the accused get the maximum punishments possible.

The defence team tries to "play down" the seriousness of the assault or the impact on the sufferer.

This is why both parties must go to court with a legal representative; some courts will not even hear a case without your lawyers.

Which court hears Assault cases?

The Magistrate Court handles cases involving summary Assault (Basic and non-aggravated). And the District, Supreme and County courts handle all other serious offences including; Rape, Attempted murder, Partial or Total disfigurement.

Wrapping Up

All convictions, sentencing and finding of guilt the court orders against an offender will appear in their police check South Australia.

Having such records on a police check can hamper chances in any application process that requires a national criminal history check record.

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