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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.
  • 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.

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 / 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.

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.

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.

Sentencing outcomes in the Magistrates’ Court

In the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, there were 2 forms of Aggravated Assault that were heard from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2019.

Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) s 24(1) – Aggravated Assault – Against Male Aged 14 or Under, or Any Female, or of an Aggravated Nature
Number of Cases: 496 (578 charges)

  • Imprisonment – 35.1%
  • Community Correction Order (CCO) – 26%
  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 20.8%
  • Fine – 18%
  • Other – 0.2%
Most Common Prison Term: Between 3 and 6 months (22.7% of cases that led to prison terms)
Longest Prison Term: 24+ months (3%)
Most Common CCO Term: Between 12 and 18 months (60.7% of the charges that led to non-aggregate CCOs)
Longest CCO Term: 24+ months (8%, non-aggregate)1

Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) s 24(2) – Aggravated Assault – In Company, or By Kicking, or With Weapon or Instrument
Number of Cases: 2,422 (2,726 charges)

  • Community Correction Order – 28.8%
  • Imprisonment – 27.0%
  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 23.1%
  • Fine – 19.9%
  • Youth Justice Centre Order – 0.7%
  • Wholly Suspended Sentence – 0.3%
  • Other – 0.3%
Most Common CCO Term: Between 12 and 18 months (70.7% of the charges that led to non-aggregate CCOs)
Longest CCO Term: 24+ months (5.3%, non-aggregate)
Most Common Prison Term: Less than 3 months (15.4% of the cases that led to imprisonment)
Longest Prison Term: 24+ months (1%)2

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.3


[1] Sentencing Advisory Council. “SAC Statistics – Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic): s 24(1) – aggravated assault – against male aged 14 or under, or any female, or of an aggravated nature” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/7405_24_1.html (accessed April 20, 2020).
[2] Sentencing Advisory Council. “SAC Statistics – Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic): s 24(2) – aggravated assault – in company, or by kicking, or with weapon or instrument.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/7405_24_2.html (accessed April 20, 2020).
[3] Sentencing Advisory Council. “Abolished Sentencing Orders.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/abolished-sentencing-orders (accessed April 20, 2020).