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Assaulting a Police Officer Charges & Penalties

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Police are generally fair and reasonable when carrying out their duties, however, in some cases they have been known to use excessive force when dealing with members of the public.

In these circumstances, you may react to the excessive force by fighting back or attempting to defend yourself. It can therefore come as a shock to be charged with ‘assaulting a police officer’ in these cases.

But you don’t have to fight the charges alone. At Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, we have a reputation for consistently defending and winning ‘assault police’ cases by raising issues with excessive police conduct – so you can count on us to protect your innocence.

The Law

What is the Offence of Assaulting a Police Officer?

Assaulting a Police Officer is an offence under Section 60 of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.

An ‘assault’ is where:

  1. You caused the officer to fear immediate and unlawful violence, or you made unauthorised physical contact with the officer,
  2. The officer did not consent, and
  3. Your actions were intentional or reckless

An act is considered to be against a police officer even though he or she is not on duty, if it is carried out due to:

  1. Actions by the officer while executing his or her duty, or
  2. The fact he or she is a police officer

What are the Penalties?

Assaulting a Police Officer carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.

The maximum penalty increases to 7 years in prison where you inflicted ‘actual bodily harm’ on the officer which is harm that is more than ‘transient or trifling’ and includes lasting cuts or bruises.

The maximum increases to 12 years in prison where you inflicted ‘grievous bodily harm’ on the officer which is ‘very serious harm’ that includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Any permanent or serious disfigurement
  2. The destruction of a foetus, other than by a medical procedure, and
  3. Any grievous bodily disease

What Does the Prosecution Have to Prove?

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

You assaulted, threw a missile at, stalked, harassed or intimidated a police officer.

What are the Defences?

Defences to the charge include self defence, duress and necessity.

If evidence of any of these defences is raised, the prosecution must then prove beyond reasonable doubt that it does not apply.

Your Options in Court

Pleading Not Guilty

Before you can be found guilty of ‘assault police,’ the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You acted in a way that caused a police officer to fear immediate and unlawful personal violence OR that you touched a police officer without their consent, and
  • The police officer did not consent to your actions
  • You acted either intentionally or recklessly

If you believe that the prosecution will be unable to prove each of these factors beyond a reasonable doubt, you may wish to speak to our highly experienced criminal lawyers about pleading ‘not guilty’ and fighting the charges in court.

Our Accredited Criminal Law Specialists have considerable experience dealing with ‘assault police’ matters, and can help you present your case persuasively to ensure that you get the best possible outcome.

Our dedicated lawyers will carefully examine all evidence to find problems with the prosecution case, which can help you secure a verdict of ‘not guilty.’

We can also advise you of any defences to explain or justify your conduct, for example:

  • Where the police officer was acting with excessive force and you acted to defend yourself (self-defence)
  • Where you were threatened or coerced into assaulting the police officer (duress)
  • Where your actions were necessary to prevent serious injury or danger (necessity)
  • Where the touching was purely accidental – for example, where the contact occurred in a large crowd by mistake.

When it comes to fighting the charges, it is important to ensure that you are represented by a reputable criminal lawyer who can give you the best possible defence in your case.

Pleading Guilty

If you are willing to accept the charges against you, you may wish to plead guilty as soon as possible.

In some cases, this may be beneficial as it will show to the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions. Accordingly, you may end up with a lesser penalty.

However, before you enter a plea to any offence, it is important to speak to a reputable criminal lawyer, who can advise whether you can defend the charges to avoid a conviction.

It’s also important to be aware of the maximum penalties that you could face.

The maximum penalties for ‘assault police’ vary based on the circumstances and seriousness of the assault:

Relevant Section Offence Maximum Penalty
S 60(1) Crimes Act Harassing, stalking, assaulting, intimidating or throwing missiles at a police officer while they are carrying out their duties – where no harm is caused to the police officer. 5 years imprisonment.
S 60(1A) Crimes Act As above, where the assault is carried out during a ‘public disorder’ – such as a riot or other disturbance which poses a threat to public safety. 7 years imprisonment.
S 60(2) Crimes Act Harassing, stalking, assaulting, intimidating or throwing missiles at a police officer while they are carrying out their duties – causing actual bodily harm to the police officer (such as bruises or scratches). 7 years imprisonment, with standard non-parole period of 3 years.
S 60(2A) Crimes Act As above, where the assault causing actual bodily harm is carried out during a ‘public disorder’ – such as a riot or other disturbance which poses a threat to public safety. 9 years imprisonment, with standard non-parole period of 3 years.
S 60(3) Crimes Act Harassing, stalking, assaulting, intimidating or throwing missiles at a police officer while they are carrying out their duties – causing grievous bodily harm or wounding (some form of permanent and serious disfigurement) 12 years imprisonment, with standard non-parole period of 5 years.
S 60(3A) Crimes Act As above, where the assault causing wounding or grievous bodily harm is carried out during a ‘public disorder’ – such as a riot or other disturbance which poses a threat to public safety. 14 years imprisonment, with standard non-parole period of 5 years.

However, these are penalties, which means that they will only apply in the most serious cases.

Our criminal law specialists can help you obtain a more lenient outcome by raising any factors that reduce the seriousness of your actions – for example, by showing that you are a person of good character, or that you have taken steps to reduce your risk of reoffending.

The types of penalties that the court can impose include:

Remember, your best chance at getting a favourable outcome in your ‘assault police’ case is to get an experienced criminal lawyer on your side.

We have an excellent track record of reducing the severity of charges in order to ensure that our clients get the best possible result. So call us today on (02) 9261 8881 and let us help you win your assault police case.

Frequently Asked Questions

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:

    We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD offices, 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.

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