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.

Elements of the offence

An accused may be found guilty of Aggravated Assault if the Prosecution prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt

  • The accused who was in company with any other person or persons assaulted another person; or
  • The accused assaulted another person by kicking or by using any weapon; or
  • The accused committed assault or battery of such an aggravated nature (in the opinion of the court) that it cannot sufficiently be punished under the section for Common Assault.
    • 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 section 24(2) Aggravated Assault - In Company or Kicking or Weapon/Instrument 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%).

      Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in the higher courts earlier than that of the Magistrates’ Court, and therefore all offences committed on or after 1 September 2013 will not have this available as a sentencing option.1

      Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts

      In the Magistrates' Courts of Victoria, 256 cases (287 charges) of section 24(1) Aggravated Assault - Male 14 or Under, or Any Female, or Aggravated Nature were heard from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016. These cases resulted in the following sentences:

      • Community Correction Order - 30.9%
      • Imprisonment - 20.7%
      • Fine - 20.7%
      • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal - 19.5%
      • Wholly Suspended Sentence - 5.9%
      • Partially Suspended Sentence - 2.0%
      • Youth Justice Centre Order - 0.4%

      Of the charges that led to Community Correction Orders, 50.0% (non-aggregate) were for a term somewhere between 12 and 18 months. The longest term imposed was more than 24 months (4.2%).

      Of the cases that led to imprisonment, 30.2% were sentenced to a term that was less than 3 months. There were also terms imposed that were above 3 years (1.9%).2

      A larger number of cases related to section 24(2) Aggravated Assault - In Company or Kicking or Weapon/Instrument was heard in the Magistrates’ Court within the same period: a total of 3,045 cases (3,555 charges). These cases led to various penalties:

      • Community Correction Order (CCO) - 29.8%
      • Imprisonment - 24.0%
      • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal - 20.4%
      • Fine - 19.0%
      • Wholly Suspended Sentence - 4.4%
      • Partially Suspended Sentence - 1.5%
      • Youth Justice Centre Order - 0.8%
      • Other - 0.1%

      The majority of the charges that led to CCO were sentenced to a term that was between 12 and 18 months (non-aggregate, applied in 54.5% of the charges that led to CCO). The highest term imposed was more than 2 years (5.9%, non-aggregate).

      The highest prison term imposed was more than 3 years but this was applied in only 1.0% of the cases that resulted in imprisonment. Most of the terms fell somewhere between 3 and 6 months (31.4%).3

      Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.4

      Other Important Resources
      Case Studies


      [1] Sentencing Advisory Council. "Suspended Sentence." SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/sentencing-options-for-adults/suspended-sentence (accessed February 11, 2019).
      [2] Sentencing Advisory Council. "SAC Statistics - Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic): s 24(1) - aggravated assault - male 14 or under, or any female, or aggravated nature." SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/7405_24_1.html (accessed February 11, 2019).
      [3] SAC Statistics - Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic): s 24(2) - aggravated assault - in company or kicking or weapon/instrument." SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/7405_24_2.html (accessed February 11, 2019).
      [4] Sentencing Advisory Council. "Suspended Sentence." SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/sentencing-options-for-adults/suspended-sentence (accessed February 11, 2019).