In New South Wales (NSW), Common Assault is a criminal offence under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). It is the least serious form of assault, and some examples include:
1. Intentionally or recklessly causing another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence. This is often referred to as "assault by fear".
2. Intentionally or recklessly applying force to another person. This is often referred to as "battery".
3. Any conduct that could be considered as an act of violence, such as spitting on someone or throwing an object at them etc.
The penalty for common assault in NSW can vary depending on the circumstances of the offence. If the assault is dealt with in the Local Court, the maximum penalty is two years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,500. If the assault is dealt with in the District Court, the maximum penalty is five years’ imprisonment.
To convict a person of common assault in NSW, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements:
1. The accused intentionally or recklessly applied force to the victim, or the accused caused the victim to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence;
2. The force applied, or apprehension of violence was unlawful; and
3. The accused did not have a lawful excuse or justification for their actions.
In addition, the prosecution must prove that the accused had the necessary intention or recklessness to commit the offence. This means that they must demonstrate that the accused intended to apply force to the victim, or they were aware that the force they were applying was likely to cause harm.
It is important to note that the prosecution must prove all of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that if there is any doubt about any of these elements, the accused must be found not guilty. It is the prosecution’s burden to prove the case against the accused, and the accused does not need to prove their innocence.
It is important to note that common assault can have serious consequences, including a criminal record, imprisonment, fines, and restrictions on future employment and travel. If you have been charged with common assault in NSW, it is recommended that you seek legal advice from a qualified criminal defence lawyer specialising in Criminal Defence Law.
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*This article correctly reflects the Laws of NSW as at 8th May 2023.
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