Sexual Assault in New South Wales
In New South Wales, sexual offences are contained in the Crimes Act 1900. They include sexual touching, sexual assault and assault with intent to have sexual intercourse. This page explains the laws surrounding sexual assault in New South Wales, the maximum penalties that apply and the court processes for finalizing a charge.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault was once known as rape in New South Wales. In 1981, the common law offence of rape was abolished and replaced with the sexual assault offences that are set out in sections 61I, 61J and 61JA of the Crimes Act 1900.
The changes to the laws around sexual offences were intended to reduce the stigma associated with reporting these offences. They also recognized the different types of sexual assaults that can be committed and introduced different maximum penalties for offences committed under different circumstances.
The offence of sexual assault in NSW
The offence of sexual assault is set out in section 61I of the Crimes Act 1900. The offence consists of having sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of the other person, knowing that they do not consent or being reckless as to whether or not they consent.
It carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
The offence of aggravated sexual assault in New South Wales
The offence of aggravated sexual assault is contained in section 61J of the Crimes Act 1900. An aggravated sexual assault carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 20 years.
An offence is aggravated if:
- The offender inflicts or threatens to inflict actual bodily harm on the victim or on someone else who is nearby
- The offender threatens to wound or inflict grievous bodily harm on the victim or on someone else who is nearby
- The victim is under 16
- The victim has a serious physical disability or cognitive impairment
- The offender is in company with another person
- The victim is under the offender’s authority
- The offender breaks into a building with the intention of committing the offence
- The offender deprives the victim of their liberty for a period after the offence.
The offence of aggravated sexual assault in company in New South Wales
Aggravated sexual assault occurs when a person sexually assaults another person in company with another person and:
- Inflicts actual bodily harm on the victim or another person who is nearby; or
- Threatens to inflict actual bodily harm on the victim or someone else who is nearby using a weapon; or
- Deprives the victim of their liberty for a period after the offence.
Jurisdiction for sexual assault offences in NSW
Sexual assault offences are finalized in the District Court. However, all criminal matters begin in the Local Court. A sexual assault matter will be transferred to the District Court after a number of mentions in the Local Court if there is enough evidence to support the charge.
Should I plead guilty or not guilty?
If you have been charged with sexual assault in New South Wales, you should get legal advice immediately. An Armstrong Legal NSW criminal lawyer will give you thorough and timely advice about:
- The strength of the case against you
- Any available legal defences
- The likely penalty range in your circumstances if you are found guilty
- The criminal process
- how long the matter is likely to take to resolve
Applying for bail on a sexual assault charge in New South Wales
If you have been remanded in custody on a charge of sexual assault in New South Wales, you may want to apply for bail. Armstrong Legal can help you to do so. Decisions about bail are made under the Bail Act 2013. The court will decide whether to grant a person bail based on whether there is an unacceptable risk that they will:
- Fail to attend court
- Commit a serious offence
- Endanger a person
- Interfere with witnesses or evidence or obstruct the course of justice.
If you are charged with a sexual assault offence that carries life imprisonment, or a sexual assault where the alleged victim is under 16, or if you are alleged to have sexually assaulted someone while you were on bail, parole or on a supervised order, you will be asked to ‘show cause’ why you should not be kept in custody. This means that your lawyer will have to overcome a presumption that bail should not be granted.
If you require legal advice or representation in any sexual assault legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.