Indecent assault occurs where one person touches another person in a sexual manner without his or her consent.
The maximum penalty for the offence is 5 years in prison if the case proceeds to the District Court, or 2 years if it remains in the Local Court.
The offence of indecent assault was superseded by ‘sexual touching’ in December 2018.
Your Options in Court
Before you can be found guilty of indecent assault, the prosecution must prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That an assault took place
- That the assault was ‘indecent’
- That consent was not given
- That you knew that consent was not given, or you were reckless as to whether consent was given
If the prosecution is unable to prove each of these four elements, you will be found ‘not guilty.’
There are a number of ways to defend indecent assault charges, including raising the fact that:
- The prosecution cannot prove there was touching,
- The prosecution cannot prove you were the person who undertook the act,
- The prosecution cannot prove the act was undertaken intentionally or recklessly,
- The prosecution cannot prove the act was indecent,
- The prosecution cannot disprove that there was in fact consent;
- The touching was for a proper medical purpose, or
- You were coerced or threatened into committing the act.
If any of these facts prevail, you will be found not guilty.
Where the evidence is strong, you may wish to plead guilty to the charge.
If this is the case, your lawyer may be able to negotiate the police ‘facts’ ie to make the matters set-out in your court attendance notice more accurately reflect what actually occurred.
Your lawyer can also guide you to obtain materials that are relevant to your sentencing – including a letter of apology and character reference.
This can significantly reduce the penalty actually obtained.
By pleading guilty at an early stage, you will be entitled to a ‘discount’ on sentence of up to 25% – which can lead to the imposition of a less serious penalty type.
You will also be spared the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or trial..
Indecent assault carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment if the case is committed up to the District Court, or 2 years where it remains in the Local Court.
However, it is important to be aware that these are maximum penalties and a good lawyer will seek to keep the case in the Local Court and fight for the most lenient outcome.
The court may impose any of the following penalties for indecent assault:
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