Section 61L-O Crimes Act 1900 | Indecent Assault


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The Crimes Act 1900 contains several provisions in relation to indecent assault.

While it can be stressful and distressing being charged with an offence like indecent assault, our lawyers can help you fight the charges so that you can get on with your life as quickly as possible.

Read on to find out what the law says about indecent assault.

Section 61L – Indecent Assault

Section 61L says that if you’re found guilty of indecently assaulting another person, you could face a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

An indecent assault generally refers to situations where you touch another person in a sexual manner without their permission, such as touching someone on the genitals, buttocks or breasts.

However, it can also include situations where you cause another person to fear ‘immediate and personal violence’ of a sexual nature – for example, threatening to indecently assault someone.

Whether or not your actions are ‘indecent’ will be judged according to an ordinary person’s expectations of a respectable person.

Section 61M – Aggravated Indecent Assault

Section 61M of the Crimes Act 1900 describes situations where you indecently assault another person in ‘circumstances of aggravation,’ which are factors which make the offence more serious.

The law says that if you indecently assault someone and:

  • There are one or more other people with you when you indecently assault the other person
  • The person who is indecently assaulted is under your authority – e.g. where you are a teacher or carer
  • The person who is indecently assaulted has a serious physical disability
  • The person who is indecently assaulted has a cognitive impairment

You could face a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment, or 10 years imprisonment if the other person is under the age of 16.

Section 61N – Act of Indecency

Section 61N says that the maximum penalty for committing an ‘act of indecency’ towards another person is 18 months imprisonment.

However, where the other person is under the age of 16, the maximum penalty is two years’ imprisonment.

An ‘act of indecency’ is something that an ordinary person would consider to be contrary to community standards of decency. This means that your conduct will be judged according to whether or not a reasonable person would feel offended.

Indecent acts have been found to include actions like showing your genitals in public or kissing someone without their permission and suggesting that you have sex.

Section 61O – Aggravated act of indecency

Section 61O contains the offence of ‘aggravated act of indecency.’ An ‘aggravated act of indecency’ is something which is more serious than an ordinary act of indecency.

Section 61O gives four circumstances of aggravation:

  • Where there is at least one other person with you when you commit the act of indecency
  • Where the other person is under your authority – for example, where you are their teacher or carer
  • Where the other person has a serious physical disability
  • Where the other person has a cognitive impairment

Section 61O says that the maximum penalty depends on the age of the complainant:

  • Where the other person is under the age of 16, the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment
  • Where the other person is aged 16 years or older, the maximum penalty is 3 years imprisonment.
  • Where the other person is under the age of 10, the maximum penalty is 7 years imprisonment

If you’ve been charged with any of these offences, it’s important that you speak to an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible.

You can read more about indecent assault on our sexual offences page here.

The Legislation

Sections 61L – O of the Crimes Act 1900, which deal with ‘indecent assault’ read as follows:

61L Indecent assault

Any person who assaults another person and, at the time of, or immediately before or after, the assault, commits an act of indecency on or in the presence of the other person, is liable to imprisonment for 5 years.

61M Aggravated indecent assault

(1) Any person who assaults another person in circumstances of aggravation, and, at the time of, or immediately before or after, the assault, commits an act of indecency on or in the presence of the other person, is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.

(2) Any person who assaults another person, and, at the time of, or immediately before or after, the assault, commits an act of indecency on or in the presence of the other person, is liable to imprisonment for 10 years, if the other person is under the age of 16 years.

(3) In this section, “circumstances of aggravation” means circumstances in which:

(a) the alleged offender is in the company of another person or persons, or

(c) the alleged victim is (whether generally or at the time of the commission of the offence) under the authority of the alleged offender, or

(d) the alleged victim has a serious physical disability, or

(e) the alleged victim has a cognitive impairment

61N Act of indecency

(1) Any person who commits an act of indecency with or towards a person under the age of 16 years, or incites a person under that age to an act of indecency with or towards that or another person, is liable to imprisonment for 2 years.

(2) Any person who commits an act of indecency with or towards a person of the age of 16 years or above, or incites a person of the age of 16 years or above to an act of indecency with or towards that or another person, is liable to imprisonment for 18 months.

61O Aggravated act of indecency

(1) Any person who commits an act of indecency with or towards a person under the age of 16 years, or incites a person under that age to an act of indecency with or towards that or another person, in either case in circumstances of aggravation, is liable to imprisonment for 5 years.

(1A) Any person who commits an act of indecency with or towards a person of the age of 16 years or above, or incites a person of the age of 16 years or above to an act of indecency with or towards that or another person, in either case in circumstances of aggravation, is liable to imprisonment for 3 years.

(2) Any person who commits an act of indecency with or towards a person under the age of 10 years, or incites a person under that age to an act of indecency with or towards that or another person, is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.

(2A) A person:

(a) who commits an act of indecency with or towards a person under the age of 16 years, or incites a person under the age of 16 years to an act of indecency with or towards that person or another person, and

(b) who knows that the act of indecency is being filmed for the purposes of the production of child abuse material,

is guilty of an offence.

Maximum penalty: imprisonment for 10 years.

(3) For the purposes subsections (1) and (1A), “circumstances of aggravation” means circumstances in which:

(a) the alleged offender is in the company of another person or persons, or

(b) the alleged victim is (whether generally or at the time of the commission of the offence) under the authority of the alleged offender, or

(c) the alleged victim has a serious physical disability, or

(d) the alleged victim has a cognitive impairment.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (2A):

(a) “child abuse material” has the meaning given by Division 15A, and

(b) an act of indecency is being “filmed” if one or more images (whether still or moving) of the act of indecency are being recorded or transmitted for the purpose of enabling those images to be observed by any person(whether during the filming or later).

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

At Sydney Criminal Lawyers, we specialise exclusively in criminal law, and we’ve successfully defended clients in hundreds of indecent assault matters.

Our expert knowledge of the law in relation to sexual offences, combined with our years of experience fighting and winning these types of matters means that our clients get the best possible defence in their case.

Our specialist lawyers will thoroughly examine all the evidence to identify any problems with the prosecution case, which, if raised at an early stage in proceedings, can result in the charges being dropped.

If your matter progresses to court, we guarantee that you will be represented by one of our senior defence lawyers, who will fight hard to protect your innocence by raising all evidence in court and examining all relevant witnesses.

Alternatively, if you simply wish to plead guilty, we can persuade the court to deal with the matter leniently, leaving you free to get on with your life.

To get the best possible defence your indecent assault case, get the experts on your side. Call us now on (02) 9261 8881 and book your FREE first appointment to discuss your case.