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Lawful Correction

Lawful Correction is a complete defence to a criminal charge which means it leads to a verdict of ‘not guilty’.

The defence is contained in Section 61AA of the Crimes Act 1900 which states that you are not criminally responsible for an offence arising from applying physical force to a child if:

  1. You were the child’s parent or were acting for the child’s parent
  2. You applied force to punish the child, and
  3. The force was reasonable

A ‘child’ is a person under the age of 18 years.

A person ‘acting for a parent’ is:

  1. The child’s step-parent, or the parent’s de-facto partner or relative, or a person to whom the parent has entrusted the child’s care, and
  2. Who the parent authorises to use physical force to punish the child

In the case of Indigenous persons, a person acting for a parent includes a person recognised by the Indigenous community as having special responsibilities towards the child.

The factors relevant for determining whether the force was ‘reasonable’ are:

  1. The child’s age, health, maturity and other characteristics
  2. The nature of the alleged misbehaviour, and
  3. Any other relevant circumstances

Physical force that is more than trivial or negligible is not reasonable where applied to:

  1. The child’s head or neck, or
  2. Any other part of the child where

The harm is likely to last more than a short period of time.

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