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Aggravated Assault

– section 24 of the Summary Offences Act 1966

Aggravated Assault is used by the Police when an assault takes place in ‘aggravated’ circumstances such as when another person is present, or when kicking or a weapon is used.

Examples of Aggravated Assault
  • You get into an argument at a bar. You threateningly swing a pool cue at the other person and make contact with their leg.
  • You are confronted by two security guards in a shopping centre. You wave a knife at them to threaten them.

In one case, one of our clients was charged with 13 violent offences involving family violence and including Aggravated Assault. Our client wanted to plead guilty, so we helped him with his plea. After our discussions with the prosecution, our client pleaded guilty to 5 of the original 13 charges. The Magistrate imposed a fine without conviction.

 

Another of our clients was charged with several serious assault charges, including Aggravated Assault with a bat. We highlighted that our client was not involved in an extended episode of violence, that he had no criminal record and strenuous parenting responsibilities, and that he was remorseful. After discussions, the prosecution agreed to withdraw the original charges and our client entered a guilty plea to a charge of recklessly causing injury. He was fined without conviction.

What are possible defences to an Aggravated Assault charge?
  • Somebody else assaulted the victim.
  • You kicked someone or used a weapon in self defence.

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • What actually happened? Was there a case of mistaken identity
  • Assaults often happen in heated situations witnesses memories of the true events are often wrong.
  • How can they prove the assault and aggravated circumstances?
  • Were you acting in self defence?

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 2 years.

Aggravated Assault is a charge which is generally heard in the Magistrates Court.

“Were you acting in self defence?”
What is the legal definition of Aggravated Assault?

There are 2 kinds of Aggravated Assault in Victoria.

The first is when either a female, or a male under the age of 14, is assaulted. If a Magistrate thinks that the punishment for assault is too lenient in the circumstances, the Magistrate may hold that the assault is aggravated.

The Second kind of Aggravated Assault is assault done by more than one person, or by kicking or using a weapon.

Legislation

The section that covers this offence is section 24 of the Summary Offences Act 1966.1

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

A serious aggravated assault may mean you go to jail. Less serious incidents may mean a range of penalties from a fine to a Community Correction Order.

Sentencing Outcomes in the Higher Courts2

From July 2011 to June 2016, there were a total of 129 charges of Aggravated Assault related to cases that were heard in Victoria’s higher courts.

The majority of these charges led to imprisonment (57.4%) . Other sentences include: Youth Justice Centre Order (15.5%), Community Correction Order (14.0%), Wholly Suspended Sentence (6.2%), and Fine (4.6%).

Of those sentenced to imprisonment the majority (82.4%) received a term of more than 1 but less than 2 years. The same period of time was also imposed to majority of those who were sentenced to Youth Justice Centre Order (50.0%) and Community Corrections Order (55.6%).

Other Important Resources
Case Studies


[1] Summary Offences Act 1966 – Section 24

(1) (a) Where a person is convicted before the Magistrates’ Court of an assault or battery upon any male child whose age in the opinion of the court does not exceed fourteen years or upon any female, if in the opinion of the court the assault or battery is of such an aggravated nature that it cannot sufficiently be punished under the last preceding section, the person offending shall be liable on conviction to a penalty of 25 penalty units or to imprisonment for six months and the court may (if it thinks fit in any of the said cases) without any further or other charge adjudge any person convicted to enter into a recognizance and find sureties to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a term of not more than six months from the expiration of such sentence.
(b) In default of compliance with any such order to enter into a recognizance and find sureties the court may order an accused to be imprisoned until he complies with the order:
Provided that no person shall be imprisoned for non-compliance with any such order for a longer period than twelve months.
(2) Any person who in company with any other person or persons assaults another person shall be liable to imprisonment for twelve months and any person who by kicking or with any weapon or instrument whatsoever assaults another person shall be liable to imprisonment for two years.

[2] SACStat Higher Courts: Aggravated Assault (1 July 2011 to 30 June 2016)