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Assault Offences

An assault is the use of any force, or threat to use force, against a person that is not consented to. In Victoria, most assault offences are contained in the Crimes Act 1958. However, some are also found in the Summary Offences Act 1966. The seriousness of an alleged assault will usually determine which offence the police will prosecute.

Unlawful assault

The least serious assault offence in Victoria is unlawful assault under section 23 of the Summary Offences Act. This offence is punishable by a fine or up to three months imprisonment and is finalised in the Magistrates Court.

A person is usually charged with unlawful assault when they assault a person without injuring them.

Assault police

A person who assaults a police officer in Victoria is guilty of an offence under the Crimes Act 1958 and is liable to a sentence of up to two years imprisonment.

Assault police is an indictable offence. However, it is usually dealt with summarily in the Magistrates Court.

Assault with intent to commit indictable offences

A person who commits an assault with the intent to commit other indictable offences is guilty of an offence under section 31 of the Crimes Act 1958. This offence is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.


A person commits affray if they act violently in a public place and their behaviour causes another person or persons to fear for their personal safety. The maximum penalty for affray in Victoria is ten years imprisonment.

Recklessly or intentionally causing injury

Serious assaults that result injury in Victoria are generally charged as offences of causing injury. A person who recklessly or intentionally causes injury to another person is guilty of an offence under section 18 of the Crimes Act. Injury may be unconsciousness, substantial pain, disfigurement or mental illness. It may be temporary or permanent. This offence may be punished by imprisonment for up to five years (where injury was reckless) or up to ten years (where it was intentional).

Recklessly or intentionally causing serious injury

A person may be found guilty of a more serious offence if they recklessly cause serious injury or if they intentionally cause serious injury. A serious injury is an injury that is substantial and protracted or endangers life.

This is an indictable offence that must be finalised in the County Court.  It carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 15 years (where the injury was reckless) and 20 years (where it was intentional). An aggravated offence of recklessly causing injury in circumstances of gross violence occurs when a person is injured in any of a number of circumstances including where the offender planned the offence in advance, was in company with two or more other persons or where the offender cause injury to a person who was incapacitated.

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

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

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