Sexual Assault

In Queensland, Sexual Assault carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Despite the significant maximum penalty provided for under the law, it is possible in less serious cases for fines and other penalties (which do not include imprisonment) to be imposed.

The Offence of Sexual Assault:

The offence of Sexual Assault is contained in section 352 of the Queensland Criminal Code which states:

“(1) Any person who:

  • (a) unlawfully and indecently assaults another person; or
  • (b) procures another person, without the person’s consent;
    • (i) to commit an act of gross indecency; or
    • (ii) to witness an act of gross indecency by the person or any other person;

is guilty of a crime.

Maximum penalty 10 years imprisonment.”

What Actions Might Constitute Sexual Assault?

Sexual Assault might be committed simply by the use of unwanted sexualised speech toward another person, though it is most commonly committed through a physical act. Non-consensual touching of another persons genitals would almost certainly constitute a Sexual Assault but the offence might also be committed by an unwanted touching of other areas of the body such as the buttocks or thighs.

Pursuant to subsection (1)(b) procuring another person to witness or perform an indecent act can also constitute a Sexual Assault where the act performed or witnessed was not lawful and consensual between all the parties to it.

Penetrative sexual acts can also constitute a Sexual Assault though they will almost always give rise to a more serious offence of Aggravated Sexual Assault which is punished more severely under Queensland law. Follow this link for more information about Aggravated Sexual Assault.

A penetrative sexual act might also constitute an offence of rape.

What the Police Must Prove:

To convict you of Sexual Assault, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You indecently assaulted another person, and
  • You did so unlawfully, or
  • You procured another person to commit, or witness, an act of gross indecency, and
  • The person did not consent to being procured, committing or witnessing the act of gross indecency.

Possible Defences for Sexual Assault:

Possible defences to a charge of Sexual Assault include, but are not limited to:

  • Intoxication
  • Accident (meaning an absence of criminal intent)
  • Compulsion
  • Reasonable belief that there was consent

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

Sexual Assault (in its simpliciter form) is a crime but it will be heard in the Magistrates Court unless you elect for a trial by jury in the District Court.

Types of penalties:

Imprisonment : Even though it is not a sentence of last resort (as it is in some other states) imprisonment is the most serious penalty which a court can impose upon a person. At its most severe a sentence of imprisonment means that a person must spend a specified period of time within a correctional facility, also called a prison, a jail or a gaol. Read more.

Intensive corrections order (ICO): An Intensive Corrections Order (‘ICO’ for short) is, technically, a form of imprisonment but which is served wholly in the community. This means that a person who is made subject to an ICO will not spend any time in prison but will, instead, be required to adhere to a number of requirements that the court will order. Read more.

Probation: A court can make a Probation Order either by itself, meaning the whole of the sentence is probation, or as a component of a sentence of imprisonment, meaning that a person is ordered to serve a period of time (not longer than 1 year) in prison and is then subject to a probation requirement upon release. Read more.

Community service order(CSO): As the name implies, a Community Service Order (‘CSO’ for short) is an order which requires a person to perform unpaid work, normally at some kind of community facility, for a stated number of hours (to a maximum of 240) within a nominated time (usually 6 or 12 months). Read More.

Recognisance: A recognisance is a promise which a person makes to be of good behaviour for a stated period of time. A court is empowered to release a person who enters into a recognisance, either with a surety, which is a sum of money which the person agrees to pay if they breach the recognisance, or without one. Read More.

Fines: A court is empowered to impose a fine, which is a sum of money which a person is required to pay to the State, for any offence regardless of whether the law creating it nominates a fine as part of the applicable penalty. Read More.

Section 19 dismissal: A court can discharge a person absolutely, or upon them entering into a recognisance, without recording a conviction against them, if it is satisfied that it is appropriate to do so. Read More.

In all cases where you are sentenced to a penalty other than jail, the Court can choose not to record a conviction against you, meaning your criminal record will remain clear and any complications with work or travel may be avoided.



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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