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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 New South Wales, assaults against police officers are taken very seriously. A charge of assaulting a police officer in their execution of duty carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.This article outlines what the different offences committed against police officers involved, the penalties that apply and which court will finalsie the matter.

Legislation

Section 60 of the Crimes Act 1900 provides for a number of offences committed against police officers in the execution of their duty. Offences that can be committed under that provision are:

  • Assaulting a police officer where no actual bodily harm is caused (maximum penalty five years imprisonment);
  • Assaulting a police officer during a public disorder where no actual bodily harm is caused (maximum penalty seven years imprisonment);
  • Assaulting a police officer where the officer sustains actual bodily harm (maximum penalty seven years imprisonment);
  • Assaulting a police officer during a public disorder where the officer sustains actual bodily harm (maximum penalty nine years imprisonment);
  • Assaulting a police officer who sustains a wound or injury amounting to grievous bodily harm (maximum penalty 12 years imprisonment);
  • Assaulting a police officer during a public disorder where the officer sustains a wound or injury amounting to grievous bodily harm (maximum penalty 14 years imprisonment);

What Actions Might Constitute Assaulting A Police Officer?

Whilst the slightest touch may technically be an ‘assault’, 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.

Defences To Assaulting a police Officer

A person charged with this offence could validly argue in their defence that:

  • The officer was not acting in their lawful duties. This may be because the police officer was off duty or because they were exceeding their powers and acting unlawfully.
  • The actions charged do not amount to an assault. This may because physical contact occurred unintentionally.

Jurisdiction

An offence where the officer does not sustain bodily harm or where the officer sustains bodily harm is an indictable offence that can be heard summarily with the consent of the parties. If the matter is heard summarily, the maximum penalty that can be imposed is imprisonmnet for two years.

An offence where the officer sustains grievous bodily harm is a strictly indictable offence and must be heard in the District Court or Supreme Court on indictment.

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.

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