Speak to Perth’s Leading Assault Lawyers
The criminal law in Western Australia creates an array of offences involving violence or the use of force. Due to the variety of offences created by legislation such as the Criminal Code, it can difficult to fully or correctly understand when the use of force is lawful and when it is unlawful. Often, it takes an experienced assault lawyer to give clear and accurate legal advice about what is lawful and what isn’t.
Over the years, various new offences have been created to capture and criminalise different forms of behaviour. Here are a few examples:
- Common assault (s313);
- Assault occasioning bodily harm (s317);
- Grievous bodily harm (s297);
- Acts or omissions causing bodily harm (s304) ;
- Wounding (s301);
- Assaults whilst aboard aircraft (s318A);
- Indecent assault (s323);
- Assault with intent to steal or rob (s393);
- Home invasions;
- Unlawful assault causing death (s281);
- Assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm/intent to commit a crime/prevent arrest (s294);
- Assaults on police and public officers (s318).
Penalties for Violent Offending
The penalties that apply for violent offences vary greatly. In fact, the penalties for individual offences can vary depending on the circumstances in which they are committed. Under the criminal law in Western Australia, sentences can range from small fines to mandatory sentences of 15 years. Much will depend on the offence provision and the circumstances of each individual case.
Over the years, both the maximum penalties as well as the acceptable sentencing ranges for most violent offences have increased in response to public concern/outcry and a perception (rightly or wrongly) that violent crime is on the increase.
Some violent offences are ‘either way’ offences that can be dealt with in either the Magistrates Court or the District Court. Different penalties often apply depending on whether the charge is being dealt with in the Magistrates Court or District Court.
More recently, mandatory sentencing has been utilised as a means of removing sentencing discretion from judges and magistrates. Again, this has occurred in the midst of public outcry about an erroneous perception that the courts don’t treat violent offences seriously and will only ever deliver a “slap on the wrist”.
This can result in some unjust sentencing outcomes.
Assaults on police in circumstances of aggravation will usually carry a mandatory minimum of six months imprisonment.
Assaults committed in the course of a home invasion can carry mandatory minimum sentences of anywhere up to 15 years imprisonment. This is more than the typical sentence for manslaughter.
However, there are often alternative charges that don’t fetter the discretion of the courts by imposing mandatory minimums.
If you are facing a charge that carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment: we strongly recommend that you get legal advice from a top assault lawyer in Perth about your options.
An experienced assault lawyer will be able to advise you if there is an alternative charge available that does not carry a mandatory term of imprisonment. The best assault lawyers in Perth are astute negotiators know to key persuasive negotiation with the prosecution.
Circumstances of Aggravation
Many of the assault offences created by the Criminal Code can be committed in circumstances of aggravation that increase the maximum statutory penalties that apply or require that certain mandatory minimum sentences (such as mandatory imprisonment) apply. The Criminal Code defines various circumstances of aggravation. These are known as statutory circumstances of aggravation.
Statutory circumstances of aggravation include:
- being in company with a co-offender;
- being armed with a weapon or pretending to be armed;
- offences committed in occupied dwellings;
- being in a family or domestic relationship with the victim;
- offences committed in the presence of children;
- where the victim is 60 years of age or over;
- offending motivated by race.
In addition to circumstances of aggravation legislated in the Criminal Code, individual examples of offending can be aggravated because of case law precedent. Some examples are:
- offences committed whilst on bail;
- offences committed whilst the offender is subject to a suspended term of imprisonment;
- offences committed whilst the offender is on community based order or intensive supervision order;
- offences committed against vulnerable victims;
- offences committed whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The Criminal Code creates a number of defences that absolve a person of criminal responsibility in circumstances that would otherwise constitute a criminal offence. Much like circumstances of aggravation, there are statutory defences created by legislation such as the Criminal Code, as well as ‘common law’ defences that are established by case law precedent.
Some defences only apply to certain criminal offences but not others. Some examples of statutory defences created by the Criminal Code are:
- Self defence (s248);
- Provocation (s246);
- Insanity (s27);
- Resisting home invasion (s244);
- Use of force to prevent repetition of insult (s247);
- Unwilled acts or omissions (s23A);
- Accident (s23B);
- Mistake of fact (s24);
- Emergency (s24);
- Acting under lawful authority (s31);
- Duress (s32);
- Defence of movable property (s252);
- Use of force to prevent entry or remove trespassers (s254).
Most of the defences listed above only apply to some offences but not others. Again, it pays to have an experienced criminal lawyer to advise you on whether any of these defences are available to you.
Our Team Criminal Lawyers Of Criminal Lawyers and Barristers Has Decades Of Experience
At Paxman & Paxman, our team of criminal lawyers and barristers has many years of collective experience representing clients who are charged with violent offences. As one of Perth’s leading criminal law firms: we only practice in criminal law, traffic law and restraining orders.
We can give you the right legal advice about whether to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against you. We can advise you whether you have a defence at law and the prospects of successfully defending yourself at trial. We can provide legal advice about the sentencing ranges for violent offending and what you can do to mitigate the risk of receiving an immediate term of imprisonment.
If you are pleading ‘not guilty’ and need court representation at trial: our criminal barristers are some of the best criminal defence lawyers in Perth.
If you are looking for a criminal defence lawyer to represent you on an assault charge, grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning bodily harm, assault public officer or any other violent offence: we are Perth’s best team of criminal lawyers & barristers. We are a criminal law firm in Perth’s CBD providing quality representation for criminal law and traffic law. Give us a call today on 1300 CRIM WA and speak to one of our criminal lawyers about your case. Alternatively, you can fill out an online enquiry and a criminal lawyer from our team will gladly assist you.