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Assaulting a Person who is Preserving a Wreck

Assaulting a person who is preserving a wreck is an offence under section 57 of the Crimes Act 1900, which carries a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
1. You wounded, struck or assaulted a person
2. The person was in the execution of his or her duty concerning the preservation of a vessel in distress, or a vessel or effects stranded, cast onshore, or lying underwater
3. You thereby obstructed the person in the execution of his or her duty, and
4. You intended by your actions to so obstruct the person.

A ‘vessel’ is a watercraft of any description used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.

Defences to the charge include:

1. Self-defence
2. Duress, and
3. Necessity.

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