This article aims to provide an overview of the different types of assault offences in Queensland, how charges are laid, the court process, and the penalties associated with these offences.
Assault offences are taken very seriously in Queensland and are dealt with under the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld). There are several types of assault offences, each with its own set of legal definitions, elements, and penalties.
Types of Assault Offences in Queesland
- Common Assault: This is the most basic form of assault and includes acts of physically striking another person, making physical threats, or any other act that causes fear of immediate violence.
- Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm: This involves assaulting another person and causing them bodily harm, which includes any bodily injury that interferes with health or comfort.
- Serious Assault: This includes assaulting a person over the age of 60, assaulting a person with the intent to commit another indictable offence, or assaulting a public officer, such as a police officer or a health worker, while they are on duty.
- Grievous Bodily Harm: This involves causing severe bodily harm to another person, which includes any permanent or serious disfigurement or injury.
- Sexual Assault: This includes any unwanted sexual touching or penetration without consent.
How Charges Are Laid
Charges for assault offences in Queensland are typically laid by the police. The police may charge an individual with assault following an investigation, which may involve interviewing the victim, the accused, and any witnesses, collecting physical evidence, and reviewing any available surveillance footage. Once there is enough evidence, the police can charge an individual with assault and issue a Notice to Appear in court or arrest the individual and bring them before the court.
- First Appearance: The accused will receive a Notice to Appear or be arrested and brought before a Magistrate’s Court for the first appearance. During this appearance, the accused will be informed of the charges and may enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If the accused pleads guilty, the Magistrate will proceed to sentencing. If the accused pleads not guilty, the case will be set down for a hearing or trial.
- Hearing or Trial: During the hearing or trial, the prosecution and the defence will present their cases, and witnesses may be called to testify. The Magistrate, judge, or jury will then determine whether the accused is guilty or not guilty.
- Sentencing: If the accused is found guilty, the court will determine the appropriate penalty.
Penalties for assault offences in Queensland
The penalties for assault offences in Queensland vary depending on the nature and severity of the offence. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment, community service orders, probation, and good behaviour bonds. For example:
- Common Assault carries a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment.
- Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment, but this can increase to 10 years if the offender is or pretends to be armed with a dangerous weapon.
- Serious Assault carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment, but this can increase to 14 years if the victim is a public officer and the assault resists arrest or prevents the public officer from performing a legal duty.
- Grievous Bodily Harm carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
- Sexual Assault carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, but this can increase to 14 years if the victim is under 12 years old.
Assault offences in Queensland are treated very seriously and carry significant penalties. If you are charged with an assault offence, it is crucial to seek legal advice as soon as possible to understand your rights and options. A legal professional can help navigate the legal process, build a strong defence, and work towards the best possible outcome for your situation.