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What is Assault

Assault charges are dealt with under Part 5 of the Criminal Code 1913 (WA).  . Depending on the particular type of offence, different penalties will apply.

In Western Australia, any act that includes applying force, striking, touching or moving of any kind can constitute an assault.  It can also include using a substance, light, gas, heat that may cause the other person discomfort.

This applies if you do it without the other persons permission or consent. 

You do not need to cause any physical injury to the other person for an assault to have occurred.  An assault can also occur if you attempt to strike or apply force or if you threaten the other person, as long as you have the ability or appear to have, the ability to carry out an assault. 

What makes an assault more serious is if it is against someone with whom you are in a domestic relationship, if you are breaching a restraining order, if the victim is a child or a child was present at the time.  If the victim was 60 years or older, or if the assault was racially motivated.

Common Assault

A Common assault charge in Western Australia is where the victim has sustained minor injuries, or the victim has been threatened. This usually happens after a person has been hit, pushed, or shoved and there are minimal injuries.

These matters are dealt with in the Magistrates Court and if straight forward, carry a penalty of up to 18 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $18,000.  most common form of this offence arises when a person has been hit, pushed or shoved.  However, if the assault has circumstances of aggravation, the maximum penalty rises to up to 3 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $36,000.

Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm

Bodily harm means any injury which interferes with the health or comfort of the victim.  This includes cuts, bruises or anything that is still minor but may require medical attention.   Again, these matters are usually dealt with in the Magistrates Court but sometimes they can be heard in the District Court. 

In the Magistrate Court this kind of assault the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and a fine of $24,000, or, if the offence occurred in circumstances of aggravation, 3 years imprisonment and a fine of $36,000.

For cases heard in the District Court, the offence carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment; however, this may increase to 7 years imprisonment if the offence occurs in circumstances of aggravation. 

Grievous Bodily Harm

The Criminal Code in Western Australia defines grievous bodily harm to include any bodily injury of a serious nature that is likely to endanger life or cause permanent injury or death.

This charge may arise in circumstances where a person has suffered serious disfigurement, loss of a limb or broken bones. It is a very serious offence, carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, and is dealt with by the District Court.

If the injury is caused while stealing a car, when the victim is working in a particular job, or in circumstances of aggravation, the penalty will be raised to a maximum of 14 years imprisonment.

Serious Assault

The Criminal Code in Western Australia makes it an offence to assault a public officer or police officer in their line of duty. This includes Police Officers.  The maximum penalty for serious assault in Western Australia is 7 years; however, this penalty may be raised to 10 years imprisonment if the offender is armed with a weapon or is in the company of one or more persons.

If you assault a police officer, a prison officer, a security officer, or a young offenders’ custodial officer, and that person suffers bodily injury, the court has no choice or discretion and must impose a sentence of at least 6 months imprisonment.  This increases to a mandatory term of 9 months imprisonment where the offender was armed or was in the company of one or more persons.

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