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Whether you love it or hate it, it’s almost impossible to get through a day without seeing, hearing or reading about Married at First Sight. After all, MAFS has huge numbers tuning in night after night – including this Criminal Lawyer.
This Sunday Channel 9 are set to air the reunion dinner party. If the ads are anything to go by, there will be maximum scandal, all of the DRAMA and potentially… criminal charges.
The ad for Sunday’s episode shows Martha declaring, “I’m going to pour my drink on her”. We then see Martha stand, approach another person and tip the contents of her wine glass over that person. Unless that person was consenting, or the actions were somehow deemed to be in self-defence (unlikely), then what’s occurred here is an assault. Specifically, an offence of Common Assault which carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment.
Should the NSW police charge Martha, they’d likely have a strong case. The charge of Common Assault is committed by any unlawful application of physical force and/or an act which causes another to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence. If I had a client charged with Common Assault and a fact sheet before me which indicated police had video footage of my client pouring wine over the “alleged victim” I would be advising my client that the police appear to have a strong case. I would be advising them to consider pleading guilty and warning them that a criminal conviction would likely follow.
Martha may not be the only one in trouble though. Rumours are swirling about Cyrell responding by “glassing” Martha. If this is true, Cyrell could be facing even more serious assault charges. She may well be guilty of an offence if her actions are not strictly in self-defence because they are either retaliatory in nature or constitute excessive self-defence.
If we cast out minds further back we will remember that mid-season, Cyrell confronted Martha about a rumour concerning her husband Nick and this seasons villain Jessika. The details of the rumours and relevant players aren’t all that important. What’s important is what was captured by the Channel 9 crew and broadcast to all of Australia – Cyrell screaming at Martha and grabbing Martha by the collar of her robe. This too could constitute an offence of Common Assault.
Police might lay additional charges of Common Assault in relation to the producer Cyrell pushed, a charge of Destroy/Damage Property for the fruit bowl she smashed and a Stalk/Intimidate for what she yelled at, and her actions towards, Martha.
These charges and the actions that have been broadcast are serious. TV and movies often depict violence, but when the violence that’s depicted stems from a popular reality TV show then other issues are raised. If this isn’t acting, should criminal charges be laid by police? Are members of the audience being led to believe that this sort of reaction is acceptable, “cool” or tolerated? Would we be looking at this differently if, instead of two women, these altercations occurred between two men, or a man and a woman?
Unlawful violence by any person against any person is something which not only wrong, but criminal. Responding with aggression or violence is simply not acceptable regardless of the provocation that prompts it – or how “entertaining” it may be.
This criminal lawyer knows it’s just a matter of time before she is handed police facts by a young woman or man which bears similarities to what we will be watching on Sunday night. Often, the person charged is otherwise intelligent, of good character, has a promising future ahead of them and is terrified about the consequences of being charged and the threat of a criminal conviction. So, let this be a gentle reminder to keep it under control and don’t go “full Cyrell” next time you find yourself in a heated situation. Unlike the cast of MAFS you may not be able to mount a defence that perhaps it was all “staged” or “just acting” and therefore by consent.*
That way, you won’t need to retain a lawyer like me.|
*Remark made in jest. We of course would NEVER insinuate this highly realistic show which is not in any way fake or staged is in fact, fake and staged.
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