Assault & Obstruct offences

Serious penalties apply to assault charges and there are a range of possible defenses. Assault cases can be complex. If you have been charged, you should get legal advice from us about your options, any available defence or likely penalty. Book an appointment now. 

The law provides that any person who unlawfully assaults another is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable, if no greater punishment is provided, to imprisonment for 3 years.

Assault & Obstruct offencesWhat the prosecution needs to prove 

  1. The accused unlawfully;
  2. assaulted another person.

It is a circumstance of aggravation if the offence is committed in a public place while they were adversely affected by an intoxicating substance.

What is the definition of assault?

A person who strikes, touches, or moves, or otherwise applies force of any kind to, the person of another, either directly or indirectly, without the other person’s consent, or with the other person’s consent if the consent is obtained by fraud, or who by any bodily act or gesture attempts or threatens to apply force of any kind to the person of another without the other person’s consent, under such circumstances that the person making the attempt or threat has actually or apparently a present ability to affect the person’s purpose, is said to assault that other person, and the act is called an assault. 

What does applying force include?

The definitions of assault encompasses a person who “applies force” and includes the case of applying heat, light, electrical force, gas, odour, or any other substance or thing whatever if applied in such a degree as to cause injury or personal discomfort.

What is an unlawful assault?

An assault is unlawful and constitutes an offence unless it is authorised or justified or excused by law. The application of force by one person to the person of another may be unlawful, although it is done with the consent of that other person.

What is serious assault?

Any person who:-

  • assaults another with intent to commit a crime, or with intent to resist or prevent the lawful arrest or detention of himself or herself or of any other person; or
  • assaults, resists, or wilfully obstructs, a police officer while acting in the execution of the officer’s duty, or any person acting in aid of a police officer while so acting; or
  • unlawfully assaults any person while the person is performing a duty imposed on the person by law; or
  • assaults any person because the person has performed a duty imposed on the person by law; or
  • [repealed]
  • assaults any person in pursuance of any unlawful conspiracy respecting any manufacture, trade, business, or occupation, or respecting any person or persons concerned or employed in any manufacture, trade, business, or occupation, or the wages of any such person or persons; or
  • unlawfully assaults any person who is 60 years or more; or
  • unlawfully assaults any person who relies on a guide, hearing or assistance dog, wheelchair or other remedial device;

is guilty of a crime.

What does “public officer” include?

  • a member, officer or employee of a service established for a public purpose under an Act; and Example of a service—

Queensland Ambulance Service established under the Ambulance Service Act 1991

  • a health service employee under the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011; and
  • an authorised officer under the Child Protection Act 1999; and
  • a transit officer under the Transport Operations (Passenger Transport) Act 1994.

What the prosecution needs to prove 

  1. The accused assaulted the complainant. A person who strikes or otherwise applies force of any kind to the person of another without the other person’s consent is said to have assaulted that person;
  2. That the complainant was a police officer;
  3. That the complainant was then acting in the due execution of his duty;

It is not a defence that the accused did not know the person assaulted was a police officer.

It is a circumstance of aggravation if the accused assaults a police officer in any of the following circumstances:

  • they bite or spit on the police officer or throws at, or in any way applies to, the police officer a bodily fluid or faeces;
  • they cause bodily harm to the police officer;
  • they are, or pretends to be, armed with a dangerous or offensive weapon or instrument.

It is a circumstance of aggravation for any offence in s 340(i)(b) if the offence is committed in a public place while the accused were adversely affected by an intoxicating substance.

What the prosecution needs to prove

  1. The accused assaulted a police officer;
  2. In the performance of the officer’s duties;
  3. It is a circumstance of aggravation if the assault happens within licensed premises, or in the vicinity of licensed premises (PPRA s 790(1)(a)). It is also a circumstance of aggravation if the offence was committed in a public place while adversely affected by an intoxicating substance (PPRA s 108B(2). See also s 108B(2A))

What the prosecution needs to prove

  1. The accused obstructed a police officer;
  2. In the performance of the officer’s duties;
  3. It is a circumstance of aggravation if the obstruction happens within licensed premises, or in the vicinity of licensed premises (PPRA s 790(1)(a)). It is also a circumstance of aggravation if the offence was committed in a public place while adversely affected by an intoxicating substance (PPRA s 108B(2). See also s 108B(2A))

What the prosecution needs to prove 

  1. The accused assaulted the complainant; 

Any person who strikes, touches or moves or otherwise applies force of any kind to the person of another, either directly or indirectly, without that person’s consent is said to assault that other person;

  1. The assault was unlawful, that is not authorised, justified or excused by law;
  2. The accused thereby did the complainant bodily harm, that is, any bodily injury which interferes with health or comfort;
  3. It is a circumstance of aggravation if the offence is committed in a public place while you was adversely affected by an intoxicating substance.

Note: The law changes from time to time and the above information may not be accurate at the time of your viewing. You should book an appointment with us for advice, as different information may apply.

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