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  • Assault Criminal Offences in Victoria (VIC)

    Among all offences you can commit against a person, an assault offence ranks on the more "serious" spectrum. An assault offence can encompass plenty of actions and range of the offence, from the minor to the life-threatening injury.

    Always avoid all forms of attack or verbal threats towards another, as they can lead to serious charges and punishments. Also, all Assault convictions and offence charges are added to a person's police criminal records.

    What is an assault in VIC?

    All assault cases and offences are covered in the Crimes Act of 1958 and Summary offences Act of 1966 of the VIC legislation. It specifies an assault to be

    1. An act that involves;
      1. A harmful act; force, shove, kick, blows, and so on;
      2. Intentional/out of reckless behaviours
      3. Non consensual or fraudulent way of getting consent
      4. Direct or indirect actions
      5. Assisted in the crime
    2. Also, it includes the use of verbal means or threats or you attempted to do any of (a,b,c,d,e) above.
    3. In the VIC, there are various punishments for assaulting a person, which can be "life-defining. However, these punishments depend on the seriousness of the offence and the circumstances surrounding it. Throwing a shoe at a person which causes them a scratch is different from ramming your car into people, so the punishments are proportional.

    What are the different types of Assault offences in VIC?

    The assault charge the court finds you guilty of (including the presence of aggravating circumstances) will determine the conviction you get. Here are the various degrees of assault offences in Victoria;

    1. Common Assault
    2. These assaults covered under section 23 of the Summary offences Act include all offences that do not intend or eventually cause "serious" bodily harm/disfigurement. Commonplace attacks, fights, kicking a person qualifies as common attacks.

      The Magistrate usually handles such cases with less delay and ambiguity. Other more serious crimes are dealt with in the county court.

      The court still punishes those found guilty of common assault with maximum fines of;

      • A 15 penalty unit;
      • $2,214.15
      • 3 months imprisonment term
    3. Aggravated Assault;
    4. Such cases are further divided into two categories since the court considers them much more serious than a common assault case. The two subcategories are;

      1. Assault against children under 14 and women
      2. Assaults including multiple people, kicking and use of weapons

      The case in (i) above attracts a 25 units maximum penalty;

      • Fines of $3,690.25
      • Six months imprisonment term
      • Or a good behaviour bond

      For case (ii) above, the penalties may vary as;

      • 12 months imprisonment term for multiple offenders or actions of assault
      • 24 months imprisonment term if you commit the assault by kicking someone with a weapon
    5. More serious Assaults
    6. Where the injury caused to the other person (sufferer) is grave or life-threatening or causing loss of body parts, the punishment is graver. There are various categories the court can establish the offender has committed the offence by law.

      The court orders a maximum imprisonment term of 5 years for all those found guilty of serious Assault. Some of the actions that can lead to a serious assault are;

      • Wounding; piercing the skin or leading to loss of blood
      • Cranial injuries and damage to the skull
      • Permanent disfigurement
      • Burns blows with a weapon
      • Use of electrical, gas, heat or other energy sources in harmful degrees

      These offences are considered grave and are dealt with in the County Court. However, the parties may agree to deal with it summarily in a Magistrate court.

      This offence is an indictable assault, and can constitute;

      • an intention to commit murder,
      • Assault against a Police Officer
      • Assault against emergency workers
      • Reckless actions leading to serious injuries, and so on
    7. Intentionally or recklessly causing injury
    8. Where the court concludes from evidence and arguments the offender caused the injury intentionally, it orders a penalty with a maximum jail term of 5 years. These injuries can include;

      • Life-threatening disfigurement
      • Protracted injuries
      • Injuries altering the sufferer’s routine
      • Premeditated attacks by groups, and so on.

      Each of the cases has a minimum imprisonment term with no paroles unless the court considers some extenuating circumstances. The more "serious" of these offences are handled in the county court, but lesser ones can be dealt with in a magistrate court.

      Charges for these offences have a wide range but carry the same maximum penalty of years. And the Prosecution must prove that the act was intentional and led to "serious" injuries.

    9. Threats to kill or cause serious harm
    10. Sections 20 and 21 of the Crimes Act covers all charges that include verbal assaults or attempts at it.

      Depending on how convincing the prosecuting team is that the offender; threatened and was capable of carrying out such threats, the court will order the full punishments.

      • Threats to seriously injure or wound a person attracts a maximum of 5 years imprisonment
      • And threats to kill or Seriously Torture attracts 10 years imprisonment.
      • Indecent or Sexual Assaults

      Section 39 and 40 of the Crimes Act covers all assault offences such as;

      • Rape
      • Molestation
      • Sexually harassment and other unlawful sexual actions

      All offences attract maximum sentencing of 10 years

      Other assaults and further details, including stipulated penalties, causative factors and so on. are contained in the Crimes Act of the Victoria legislation.


    One related offence that can lead to an assault charge is the Affray offence. These are offences for public acts that cause others to fear for their lives/personal safety. Some of these offences are;

    • Giving wrong information in public places; false fire alarm, etc.
    • Dangerous driving
    • Engaging in melee and public fights especially with weapons

    Is there a defence for an Assault charge?

    Those charged with assault should engage the services of a competent lawyer in assault cases. There are lots of defence arguments your legal team can explore. It is a risky move to attempt to represent yourself or hear the charges without a lawyer.

    Your legal team will advise you best on what plea to enter and “argue out” irrelevant charges.

    Why does an assault case show in my police background check in VIC?

    If the court finds you guilty of an assault charge, it will become part of your police criminal history check in Victoria. Since most convictions require a sentencing term, it can affect your chances anywhere the police check is required (in most organisations).

    Your best option is to apply to get the assault charge spent (after satisfying some conditions).

    Candidates can apply for a police history check via the portal of Australian National Character Check.

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