Acting in Concert – Assault Charges

This is a case study that involves acting in concert in the commission of assault charges and other offences.

What is alleged to have occured?
Our client was charged with Possess Cannabis, Intentionally Cause Injury, Recklessly Cause Injury, Unlawful Assault With a Weapon, and Unlawful Assault. The prosecution alleged that shortly after our client purchased cannabis from the complainant, the latter was assaulted by another man, whom the prosecution had alleged had been lying in wait. That man had with him a baseball bat which he intended to use on the complainant.

An assault ensued whereupon the complainant was struck with the baseball bat and received injuries. Our client had not physically assaulted the complainant and did not become involved in the assault. However the legal issue at play was the extent to which our client had acted in concert, or was complicit in the offending that had occurred, notwithstanding that he physically did not take part in the assault.

Acting in concert is a legal concept which confers legal liability for offending, in circumstances where there has been some premeditation or agreement to commit an offence. The classic example is an offender who acts as a lookout for an accomplice who undertakes a burglary. Both are liable for prosecution for the same offence, notwithstanding the different roles played by each.

What happened at court?
The matter progressed through case conference where the extent of involvement of our client was at the heart of the discussions. Other matters of relevance were the allegation of intentionally and recklessly cause injury, the nature and extent of the injury suffered by the complainant, and the degree to which liability for that injury could be sheeted home to our client.

After the allegations of intentionally/recklessly cause injury were discussed at a case conference with the prosecution, the matter then progressed to a contest mention. We represented the client at the Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court.

At the contest mention matter of the case, the issue of whether our client was acting in concert in the commission of assault charges and other offences was discussed before the magistrate. Having heard an appraisal of the case, and having asked whether our client had any prior convictions, his Honour inquired as to whether a sentence indication would assist to finalise the matter.

The case then proceeded as a plea and the court heard from our client’s father as to the reformation of the client since the date of the offending. The court also learned directly from our client’s father as to how distressed their family was after finding out about the allegations and that our client would be required to answer those allegations at court. A reference was provided to the court evidencing our client’s employment. He has no prior convictions which is a significant factor in mitigation.

The client’s youth was also a factor that was highlighted in court. The law emphasises rehabilitation as an important sentencing consideration for young offenders. The court further noted our client’s abstinence from drug use as a clear evidence supporting his continued rehabilitation.

What was the result?
The prosecution agreed to withdraw the most serious offence of Intentionally Cause Injury. A plea of guilty was made to the less serious charge of Recklessly Cause Injury and Possess Cannabis and this resulted in a financial penalty of $2,500.

Our client was obviously very happy with the outcome as he avoided a conviction for an indictable offence (serious offence). The issue of acting in concert in a case that involves assault charges and other offences could very well lead to a harsh punishment if not for the excellent criminal defence demonstrated by our lawyer. The client was ultimately able to continue his employment without interference by way of a court-ordered community work, supervision, or drug counselling.

Elements of Recklessly Cause Injury:

  • The complainant suffered an “injury”
  • The accused caused the complainant’s injury
  • The accused was reckless about causing the injury
  • The accused acted without lawful justification or excuse

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DISCLAIMER: This is a real case study of an actual case from our files. Details pertaining to the client have been changed to protect their privacy. The sentence imposed and the charge have not been altered. These case studies are published to demonstrate real outcomes and give an indication of possible tariffs in Court. We do not guarantee a similar case on these charges will get the same result. Please note that we post results at our discretion, therefore while many case studies are average results, others are notable for their exceptional outcomes. PUBLISHED 20/08/2018