This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Assaulting a Police Officer


In NSW, assaults against Police Officers are taken extremely seriously. A charge of assaulting a police officer in their execution of duty carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

Legislation

Section 60 of the Crimes Act 1900 provides for a number of offences relating to police officers in the execution of their duty. The charge that will be laid will depend on two things: 1) whether the assault occurred as part of a public disorder; and 2) the injury that the officer sustained.

Subsection (1) of that section states: “A person who assaults, throws a missile at, stalks, harasses or intimidates a police officer while in execution of the officer’s duty, although no actual bodily harm is occasioned to the officer, is liable to imprisonment for 5 years.”

Subsection (1A) contains an aggravated offence relating to public disorder, which states: “A person who, during a public disorder, assaults, throws a missile at, stalks, harasses or intimidates a police officer while in execution of the officer’s duty, although no actual bodily harm is occasioned to the officer, is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.”

Subsection (2) contains an aggravated offence, if the officer sustained actual bodily harm, which states: “A person who assaults a police officer while in execution of the officer’s duty, and by the assault occasions actual bodily harm, is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.”

Subsection (2A) contains an aggravated offence relating to public disorder, where the officer sustained actual bodily harm, which states: “A person who, during a public disorder, assaults a police officer while in execution of the officer’s duty, and by the assault occasions actual bodily harm, is liable to imprisonment for 9 years.”

Subsection (3) contains an aggravated offence, if the officer sustained a wound or an injury amounting to grievous bodily harm, which states: “A person who by any means: (a) wounds or causes grievous bodily harm to a police officer which in the execution of the officer’s duty; and (b) is reckless as to causing that actual bodily harm to that officer or any other person; is liable to imprisonment for 12 years.”

Subsection (3A) contains an aggravated offence relating to public disorder, where the officer sustained a wound or an injury amounting to grievous bodily harm, which states: “A person who by any means during a public disorder: (a) wounds or causes grievous bodily harm to a police officer which in the execution of the officer’s duty; and (b) is reckless as to causing that actual bodily harm to that officer or any other person; is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.”

What Actions Might Constitute Assaulting A Police Officer?

Whilst the slightest touch may technically be an ‘assault’ in the basic sense of the word, the Police will generally not charge a person unless there is a significant degree of force applied. For example, punching, kicking, pushing or spitting on a Police Officer would constitute an assault.

There are circumstances in which an offence under this section can be made out even if the officer was not on duty at the time. These are:

  • If the assault occurred as a consequence of or in retaliation for actions taken whilst the officer was in execution of their duty;
  • If the assault occurred because that person is a police officer.

Examples of offences under this section, include:

  • Kicking, punching or pushing a police officer to stop them arresting you or someone you know;
  • Threatening a police officer who is arresting you or interviewing you as part of an investigation; and
  • Seeking out, and threatening or assaulting, a police officer when they are off duty.

What The Police Must Prove

To convict you of an offence under section 60(1), the Police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • Assaulted; threw a missile at; stalked; harassed or intimidated a person;
  • That person was a police officer; and
  • That officer was in the execution of their duty at the time of the assault.

To convict you of an offence under section 60(1A), the Police must also prove that the assault occurred during a public disorder.

To convict you of an offence under section 60(2), the Police must also prove that the action or assault caused actual bodily harm to the Police Officer.

To convict you of an offence under section 60(2A), the Police must also prove that the assault occurred during a public disorder and caused actual bodily harm to the Police Officer.

To convict you of an offence under section 60(3), the Police must also prove that the assault caused an injury that would amount to wounding or grievous bodily harm.

To convict you of an offence under section 60(3A), the Police must also prove that the assault occurred during a public disorder and caused an injury that would amount to wounding or grievous bodily harm.

Defences To Assault Officer In Execution Of Their Duty

The common ways to enter a not guilty plea and defend the charge are:

  • To argue that you did not believe, and could not reasonably be expected to believe, that the person was a police officer. At minimum, you would have to show that they were not in uniform and did not identify themselves as a police officer. If you are able to show an honest and reasonable belief that the person was not a police officer, the reasonableness of your actions will be assessed through that viewpoint.
  • To argue that the police officer was not acting in the execution of their duty.

It may also be possible to raise the defences of Necessity; Self-Defence or Duress as the reason for your conduct.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

Offences under subsections (1) and (1A) are Table 2 Offences. That is, the matter will be dealt with in the Local Court unless the Prosecution elects to have the matter dealt with in the District Court.

Offences under subsections (2) and (2A) are Table 1 Offences. That is, the matter will be dealt with in the Local Court unless either the Prosecution or the Defence elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court.

Offences under subsections (3) and (3A) are strictly indictable offences. That means, the matter must be finalised in the District or Supreme Court.

If the matter is dealt with in the District or Supreme Court, it will give rise to harsher penalties.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

WHERE TO NEXT?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

WHY CHOOSE ARMSTRONG LEGAL?

Armstrong Legal
Social Rating
4.5
Based on 274 reviews
×
Legal Hotline.
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 Days
Call 1300 038 223