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Section 61 Crimes Act 1900
Common Assault

One of the most frequently prosecuted offences is ‘common assault,’ which is contained in section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900. 

Section 61 says that if you are found guilty of common assault, you could face a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment.

A ‘common assault’ refers to some kind of deliberate or reckless conduct which causes another person to fear immediate and unlawful personal violence.

Usually, this refers to touching another person without their permission, however it can also include actions which don’t involve any physical contact – such as making serious threats which cause another person to fear for their safety.

The Legislation

Section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 deals with common assault and reads as follows:

61 Common assault prosecuted by indictment

Whosoever assaults any person, although not occasioning actual bodily harm, shall be liable to imprisonment for two years.

Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?

Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with. Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:

  1. Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results

    Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases.

    Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial.

    Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.

    We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.

    Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.

  2. Highest Level of Client Satisfaction

    We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia.

    Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities.

    We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.

    We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.

  3. Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law Firm

    We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running.

    The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.

  4. Fixed Fees

    We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004.

    We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.

    Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.

  5. Free First Appointment

    For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers.

    We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.

  6. Specialist Lawyer Guarantee

    We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court.

    This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.

  7. All NSW Courts

    From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases.

    And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.

  8. Accredited Specialists

    Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists.

    All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005.

    An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field.

    Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.

    Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.

  9. Results-Focused Law Firm

    Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet.

    The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’.

    Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.

    No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.

    The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.

  10. Team of Lawyers Behind You

    Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide.

    Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes.

    A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.

    In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.

  11. Familiar with Magistrates and Judges

    Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state.

    Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.

  12. Convenience

    We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:

    • the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
    • Liverpool, directly opposite Liverpool Local Court, and
    • Parramatta, near the justice precinct.

    We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.

    For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.

    If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at info@sydneycriminallawyers.com.au.

Recent Cases

Not Guilty of Aggravated Indecent Assault and Prosecution Ordered to Pay Costs

Our client is a 39 year old man from Western Sydney. He was residing in a shared house with a man, the man’s 12 year-old son and 9-year old daughter. He was charged with indecently assaulting the daughter, namely touching the outside of her vagina through her underwear and groping her chest area. The girl made the complaint to her aunt immediately after the alleged incident. The aunt wrote down the complaint and contacted police immediately thereafter. Our client participated in a police interview during which he vehemently denied the allegations, telling police that he suspected the girl’s complaint was a result of the fact he refused to buy ice cream for her when they attended the local shop. The police took statements from the brother and two of his friends, who were playing cricket in their front yard that afternoon while our client and the young girl watched on. The boys did not claim to see the assault, which was alleged to have occurred as our client and the girl watched on. Police nevertheless relied on the girl’s complaint to charge our client with two counts of aggravated indecent assault and two counts of common assault. The matter ultimately proceeded to a defended hearing in the local court, where we systematically dismantled the prosecution case. The young girl’s responses made it clear the complaint occurred shortly after the pair attended the shops – something which police and DPP failed to look into, but for which our defence team obtained relevant and exculpatory CCTV footage. Our cross-examination of the boys and the aunt revealed gaping inconsistencies when compared with the complainant’s version of the events. Her Honour ultimately found that the prosecution case was not substantiated. She was especially critical of the prosecution’s failure to pursue a line of inquiry that was available at the time of the police interview – namely, that the girl made-up the complaint due to the fact she was angry with the defendant for not buying her ice cream. In that regard, police could easily have attended the local shops and spoken with the store owner, as well as obtained CCTV footage from a nearby camera. As a result of that failure, her Honour ordered the prosecution to pay the defendant’s legal costs.

Assault Charge and Apprehended Domestic Violence Order Dropped

Our client is a 28-year-old permanent resident who lives in Sydney’s Northern Suburbs. He was accused of choking his long-term female partner after an argument escalated into a physical altercation. The police were called to the residence by a neighbour due as a result of the arguing and screams. Police attended the scene and took statements from both parties, however they neglected to take statements from the neighbours despite one of them having called 000 and explained what she had heard. Police charged our client with common assault and applied for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) against him. A brief of evidence was served upon our office containing the statements from the complainant and our client, but it did not contain any independent witness statements despite our client telling police at the time that his partner had assaulted him and asking them to make enquiries with the neighbours. We wrote ‘representations’ (a formal letter) to police explaining that the evidence was insufficient support either the criminal charge or the ADVO. We foreshadowed an application for costs against police in the event they pursued the matter further. As a result of the representations and ensuing negotiations, police complied with our request and withdrew both the criminal charge and the ADVO. Our client and his partner remain in a committed relationship and are free to get on with their lives.

Not Guilty of Assault, Stalk/Intimidate, Damage Property, AVO and Costs Ordered Against Police

Our client is a 26 year old man who had been in a relationship with his female his ex-partner for over two years. Police alleged the pair were seated in the backseat of the complainant’s car when they began arguing about their future together. It was alleged the argument escalated, and our client then punched the woman at-least 4 times to the head, spat on her and threatened to kill her after issues about cheating were brought up. It was further alleged our client smashed the woman’s phone on the middle console. According to police, the woman began driving toward a police station when our client recommenced punching and slapping her across the head. The woman then allegedly stopped the car, directing our client to get out, which he did. She then went out with her friends, rather than immediately reporting the matter to police. One of those friends called police, who attended the hotel where they were socialising. Upon arrival, police noted a chipped tooth, a bruise to the woman’s left eye and several scratches and marks on her face. The woman was then conveyed to the police station where a Domestic Violence Evidence in Chief recording was made. The woman gave the above version of events, adding that our client called her earlier in the evening and threatened to harm her if she called police. Police attended our client’s home, arrested and conveyed him to the police station, before charging him with Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, Common Assault, Stalk and Intimidate, Destroy and Damage Property and Use Carriage Service to menace or otherwise harass. Our client’s position was simple – that although there was a verbal argument over the phone, the allegations of a physical assault were fabricated. He said the complainant was a violent person and suggested she may have been involved in an altercation with someone else later that night. He was adamant that he did not meet up with the complainant at the time alleged. He said the complainant indeed accused him of cheating before going out with her friends, that she was angry and that she had made the allegations “in revenge”. We independently subpoenaed and obtained GPS tracking records which corroborated our client’s version of the events. We also independently obtained CCTV footage from the hotel in question, which indeed depicted the complainant having an altercation with another female. Police did not bother to obtain these materials, despite the fact they would have shown that our client was innocent of the charges and that the woman had engaged in a criminal offence by making a false complaint. We cross-examined both the complainant and the police officer in charge at length in court, after which it became clear the incident did not occur and that police had brought the charges without conducting investigations that would have made it clear our client was innocent. The magistrate dismissed all of the charges against our client. An application was then made for legal costs against police, which was granted. We have made a formal request for criminal charges to be brought against the complainant for making a false complaint.

No Criminal Record for Common Assault After ‘Facts’ Significantly Amended

Our client is a 31 year old professional musician from the United States, who was visiting Australia on tour. He was charged with common assault after an argument with his partner, where it was initially alleged that he punched and kicked her several times. After reviewing the police ‘facts sheet’, we negotiated a number of significant amendments which reflected what actually occurred on the evening – including that there was one strike with an open hand after the escalation of an argument. We assisted our client to gather subjective material including character references from the United States and a letter of apology to the court. It was particularly important that he not to receive a criminal conviction, as his employment requires him to frequently travel to other countries. We made detailed submissions in court about the circumstances leading up to the incident, and our client’s subjective features including his work with young people in the community and his need to remain conviction free. The magistrate ultimately accepted our submissions and exercised her discretion not to impose a criminal conviction.

Not Guilty of Common Assault and Failing to Leave Licensed Premises

Our client is a 37-year-old investment banker from Paddington. He had been drinking at a hotel in Camperdown and left the premises to take a call on his mobile phone. Security guards refused him entry upon return, on the basis that he was intoxicated. They claimed our client became angry and attempted to push past them, and then placed one of them in a headlock. Police attended and charged our client with ‘common assault’ and ‘excluded person remain in vicinity of licensed premises.’ Our client entered pleas of not guilty to both charges, and the matter proceeded to a defended hearing in Newtown Local Court. In the lead up to the hearing, our defence team identified a number of inconsistencies in the security guards’ version of events, and obtained defence witness statements The guards were cross examined at length on the witness stand, and it became apparent they were attempting to conceal that they initiated the physical altercation and used excessive force against our client. The defence witnesses testified that the guards quickly become physically aggressive and dangerously threw our client to the ground. They were adamant that our client did not strike out at the guards until after they assaulted him. The Magistrate found that the prosecution could not disprove self-defence, and accordingly found our client not guilty of the charges.

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