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Boxing glove punching another person used for unlawful assault

How to Defend a Charge of Unlawful Assault

The police will charge you with unlawful assault if they suspect you made unwanted contact with another person.

The charge of unlawful assault is found in section 23 of the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic). To prove this charge, the prosecution must establish you did one of the following without lawful justification:

  1. unlawfully assaulted; or
  2. beat another person.

Simply, ‘assault’ is the unwanted touching of another person and does not require an injury to be caused. A common misconception people have is that an assault is limited to violence such as punching or kicking another.

Which Court will Unlawful Assault be heard in?

Unlawful assault is a summary charge, which means it is exclusively heard in the Magistrates’ Court. The maximum penalty this charge attracts is a fine of around $2,500 or 3 months imprisonment.

How to Defend a Charge of Unlawful Assault

Like most things, preparation is paramount to achieving a great outcome.

First, if the police want to speak with you about an allegation of unlawful assault, you must consult with a lawyer who practices in criminal law (you don’t speak to a plumber when your electricity goes out). An experienced criminal defence lawyer will help you to avoid compromising your position when speaking with police so as not to harm your defence later on if your matter is prosecuted in court.

Secondly, your criminal defence lawyer should immediately get your version of what happened. In some cases, self-defence is available; this must be determined early on.

Thirdly, your defence lawyer will request a copy of the full brief of evidence from police. The full brief all the evidence police rely on to support their charge, such as witness statements.

Fourthly, a diligent criminal defence lawyer will canvass the scene to try to find CCTV cameras which may have captured the incident and support your version of events. A lot of CCTV footage over-rides itself after a period of time, so it is important to explore this swiftly.

Finally, an experienced criminal defence lawyer will speak with potential witnesses who the police may have over-looked during their investigation.

Generally, the key to mounting a strong defence to a charge of unlawful assault is to conduct a separate investigation independent to the police investigation, rather than just responding to the police evidence.

Call us on 9317 9712 if you have been accused of unlawful assault. This article only provides general advice, we can provide more tailored advice to your case.


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