This article will provide an overview of physical violence offences in Victoria, the process of laying charges, the court process, penalties, and the broader consequences of a conviction.
Physical violence is a major issue that affects individuals and communities across Victoria. The state has strict laws in place to address various types of physical violence offences, from common assault to more serious offences like intentionally causing serious injury.
Types of Physical Violence Offences
- Common Assault: This is the least serious form of assault and involves the direct or indirect application of force by one person to another without their consent. This can include hitting, slapping, or pushing another person.
- Assault with a Weapon: This involves the use of a weapon, such as a knife or a firearm, during an assault.
- Aggravated Assault: This refers to an assault that is committed with the intent to cause serious harm or injury, or is committed in company with others, or is committed against a public officer, emergency worker, or a person providing assistance to an emergency worker.
- Intentionally Causing Injury: This involves intentionally causing injury to another person, whether it be serious or not.
- Recklessly Causing Injury: This involves recklessly causing injury to another person, which means the offender was aware of the probable consequences of their actions but disregarded them.
- Intentionally Causing Serious Injury: This is a more severe form of assault and involves intentionally causing serious injury to another person.
- Recklessly Causing Serious Injury: This involves recklessly causing serious injury to another person.
How Police Lay Charges
When a physical violence offence is reported, the police will conduct an investigation to gather evidence. This may involve interviewing the victim, the accused, and any witnesses, collecting physical evidence, and reviewing any available CCTV footage or other recordings.
If the police believe there is sufficient evidence to support a charge, they will formally lay charges against the accused. Depending on the severity of the offence and the circumstances of the case, the accused may be arrested and taken into custody or issued with a summons to appear in court at a later date.
The court process for physical violence offences in Victoria typically involves the following stages:
- First Appearance: The accused will have a first appearance in the Magistrates’ Court, where they will be formally charged and asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
- Contest Mention: If the accused pleads not guilty, a contest mention date will be set. This is an opportunity for both parties to discuss the issues in the case and see if it can be resolved without going to trial.
- Committal Hearing: If the case is not resolved at the contest mention, a committal hearing will be held. This is a preliminary hearing where the magistrate decides if there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
- Trial: If the case proceeds to trial, the prosecution and defense will present their cases, and the judge or jury will deliver a verdict.
- Sentencing: If the accused is found guilty, a sentencing hearing will be held to determine the appropriate penalty.
The penalties for physical violence offences in Victoria vary depending on the nature and severity of the offence. Penalties may include imprisonment, fines, community corrections orders, or a combination of these. For example, the maximum penalty for intentionally causing serious injury is 20 years imprisonment, while the maximum penalty for common assault is 5 years imprisonment.
In addition to the legal penalties, a conviction for a physical violence offence can have far-reaching consequences. It may result in a criminal record, which can affect employment prospects, travel opportunities, and eligibility for certain licenses and permits. It may also result in a loss of reputation and strained relationships with family and friends.
Physical violence offences are taken very seriously in Victoria and can result in severe penalties and long-lasting consequences. It is important to be aware of the laws surrounding physical violence and to seek help if you are a victim or know someone who is. Support services, such as helplines, counselling, and legal aid, are available to provide assistance and support to victims. A qualified legal professional can also help you understand your rights and options and provide guidance throughout the court process.