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Assault Criminal Offences in Tasmania

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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.

The Magistrate or District Court in Tasmania deals with varying degrees of assault cases almost every day. Some offenders don't even know why they received a court summons or the nature of their offences, yet this is not an excuse in the law court.

Assault crimes are a serious crime that a party can commit against another person. People convicted of an Assault crime will have such convictions recorded in their Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check Tasmania records and receive stiff penalties. In "serious" assault cases, the court imposes a mandatory jail term that cannot be commuted.

Some other factors can also affect the degree of punishments a person will get for an assault offence like;

  • Aggravating situations
  • Assault on public officials
  • Nature of assault
  • Severity of injury
  • Prior Assault convictionss

On the Nature of Assault, Tasmania legislation details varying Assault charges and treats them either as;

Summary Offences under the Police Offences Act of 1935

Indictable Crimes of Assault covered under the Criminal Code Act of 1924

Are there Punishments for Assaulting a person?

If you threaten, harm, use force (including weapon), hit or even attempt any of these;

  • Intentionally or Recklessly (Accidentally)
  • Directly or Indirectly
  • Non Consensual manner or attempt consent through fraud
  • Threatened them or caused them to fear through stalking, blackmails and so on.

The Court finds a party who commits any of the above with evidence by the prosecutor or police guilty of assaults.

The Penalty for assault offences stipulated by the Police Offences or Criminal Code Act depends on the degree of assault the court finds the party guilty. The circumstances around the assault case, including the type of assault case, can be categorized as;

Common Assault

These are the popular assault types in the Tasmania law court albeit with relatively lesser consequences. These assault types cover a multitude of actions, including;

Applying meagre force on a person without their consent;

  • Shoving
  • Pushing
  • Kicking
  • Punching
  • Or any other attempts and threats that cause them to fear for their lives or lose balance

These assaults may also be indirect acts capable of injuring a third party like;

Assaulting a mother with a child and the child gets injured from the action. The child then becomes the victim of an indirect assault from you.

Although the magistrate considers "words" a form of assault, the prosecution team must prove that the word was threatening or included a gesture at assault. They will also prove that the party was capable of acting as the person.

Other common gestures do not qualify as assaults like; a pat, friendly jab, and so on.

All Common Assault cases are handled in a Magistrate Court and attract 20 penalty points ($2,800) or a 12-month imprisonment term. If the case is serious enough to be contested at the Supreme court, the maximum penalties rise to a 21-year imprisonment term.

Aggravated Assault

Generally, it is difficult to state what qualifies as an aggravated assault in Tasmania; even the legislation seems ambiguous on that part. However, the penalties are quite sterner on Assault cases having aggravating circumstances. Some examples of aggravating circumstances can be;

  • Assaulting the elderly (above 60 years) or a child
  • The use of a weapon to degrade, scare and threaten another
  • Assaults of intimidation and superiority (from a position of authority),
  • And many more assault cases that the court will consider has an aggravating circumstance

If the court finds a party guilty of assault with an aggravating nature, it imposes punishments worth 50 penalty units ($7000) or a 2-year imprisonment term.

Aggravated Assault in indictable crimes

These types of assault cases grant the accused a right to trial by jury or indictments. However, this kind of assault differs from other aggravated assaults in that they are an aid to commit a bigger crime. It also includes all actions that attempt to evade or prevent the law. Some examples of these assault types are;

  • Preventing arrest
  • Threatening a person with a gun to steal their car/property
  • Assaulting a person leading to rape or larceny
  • Preventing law officials from carrying legal duties

The court imposes a maximum penalty term of 21 years imprisonment for such assault types.

This assault type can also include assaulting a woman you know to be pregnant.

Assaulting Police or Public officers

Tasmania considers assaults on any public/Police officer while on duty as a very "serious" offence.

Examples of such assaults can be;

  • Spitting on a Police officer
  • Hitting a Police officer
  • Engaging in a Police Chase
  • Assaulting an emergency officer
  • Resisting arrest with violent means

The court can treat this as a summary offence if it only involves threatening or intimidating the Police officer. And may impose penalties of;

100 penalty units ($14 000) or a 3-year imprisonment term

Summary offences for assaulting a public officer carry a penalty of 50 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment.

If the Court considers it an indictable offence, like a serious assault against the Police officer, the penalties are harsher. Indictable offences against Police officers carry a maximum penalty term of 21 years

Wounding or causing bodily harm

  • If the court finds a party guilty of an assault that led to;
    • Serious Bleeding
    • Suffer disbursement
    • Loss of routine
    • Serious injury
    • Internal injuries
    • Other injuries requiring medical attention but not life endangering,

    The court will impose penalties of as much as 14 years jail term.

    Serious Bodily Harm

    However, in cases of serious disfigurement, the court imposes punishments of up to 21 years imprisonment, irrespective of the circumstances.

    Such circumstances can be; Paralysis, Injury needing immediate surgeries, life-threatening injuries, etc.

    Indecent and Sexual Assault

    It is a serious offence to be found guilty of “Indecent Assault” in every state or territory, including Tasmania.

    However, depending on the charge, the offender may get a 50 penalty unit ($7,000) or 2 years imprisonment for lesser indecent assaults.

    Indecent assaults as an indictable crime or with aggravating circumstances is a serious crime with penalties of as much as 21 years imprisonment.

    What to do if you get summoned for an assault charge?

    There are a number of legal defences to explore if you are charged with assaulting a party.

    Some examples of defence to explore are;

    Act of necessity (self-defence)

    Acting under duress

    Argue that the act was consensual with proof

    And other defences as stipulated in the Crimes Act.

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