Assault Charges in Victoria
There are a number of assault offences that someone can be charged with under Victorian law.
The legislative basis for these offences is from the Crimes Act, the Summary Offences Act or from the Common Law.
Ranging from Assault under the Summary Offences Act with a maximum penalty of three months, charges can escalate in severity to Intentionally Causing Serious Injury which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years.
One single incident can attract a number of charges and that is why it is important to have a specialist criminal lawyer handle the case.
The decision to plead guilty can have a severe long-term impact and any assault offense should be dealt with seriously.
Some issues in assault cases are;
What actually happened?
Assaults often happen in heated situations and a witness’s memory of the true events is often wrong.
Often the Police will charge someone because they won the fight when the real question is “who started the fight?”
Why did it happen?
If you are pleading guilty to an assault charge it is important to explain how it came about so that the Judge can understand the circumstances of the incident. The outcome can be markedly different if the Judge accepts that you were acting in excessive self-defence than if it was a random attack.
How do I defend my assault charges?
The key issue in assault charges is what the witnesses saw. You must get names and contact details of people who saw the incident so that your lawyers can discuss the altercation with them. If there is video surveillance (like in the CBD) then subpoenas will need to be issued immediately as these are often taped over before long unless a Court orders that they be kept.
Assault cases are won by the detail of preparation. Photographs of where it happened and obtaining information about the surroundings may be what wins the case. It is often the smallest of details that play an important role in the case.
Why did no-one listen to what I say happened?
As stated above the Police make some incorrect assumptions about a case. Fights often start in a flash and witnesses can be honestly mistaken about what they saw or the exact sequence of events.
Defences to assault charges
The most common defence to assault charges is likely to be a factual dispute and/or self-defence. There are also often cases defended on the basis of a lack of intent, wrongful identification, mental impairment, necessity and self-defence.
Intent defences are often an argument about whether an action was reckless or intentional.
Self-Defence in assault cases
One important thing to remember is that the Courts do not expect you to be timid if you are genuinely defending yourself from an assault.
So even if someone is hurt badly you can run a self-defence argument.
Please read our articles on each individual assault offence. Each article will outline Victorian law on the charge, what the prosecution would have to prove and the maximum penalty that can be imposed.