The Law on Indecent Assault
A charge of indecent assault can cover a variety of different types of behaviours. The charge is generally heard in the Magistrates Court. However, depending on the seriousness of the allegations, the charge can be determined in the District Court before a judge and a jury. The maximum penalty for the offence of indecent assault if dealt with in the District Court is five years imprisonment. If the matter is determined in the Magistrates Court the maximum penalty is two years imprisonment.
What Does the Prosecution Have to Prove?
To be found guilty of indecent assault, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt the following:
- That an assault was committed. Under the Criminal Code in WA you are guilty of assault if you touch, move or apply force of any kind to another person without the consent of that person.
- The assault must have been carried out in “indecent” circumstances. The term “indecent” is determined through the standards of a reasonable person. The word “indecent” has no definite legal meaning, and the term must be taken in its commonly understood meaning. Essentially, “indecent” is defined to be anything that is unbecoming or offensive to common propriety. Whether an indecent assault has occurred can depend on a range of factors. It can depend on the act itself, the circumstances of the conduct, or the relationship between the parties involved. But, there must some sort of sexual element to the act. Whether or not an act is indecent may depend on why it was done. That is, the motivation of the person doing the act.
- The act must have been done without the consent of the other person. That means that the other person didn’t agree to the act or give conscious and voluntary permission for the act to be done. Consent can be determined by a range of factors such as words spoken, actions, or the relationship between the parties.
- The accused must have known that there was no consent given by the other person. If the accused honestly, reasonably and mistakenly believed that there was consent given by the other person then an indecent assault cannot be said to have been committed. A defence to the charge of indecent assault is often based on the accused’s mistaken belief that the complainant consented to the behaviour.
We Can Help
Andrew Williams has years of experience defending people who are charged with indecent assault. There has been numerous occasions where the client has strenuously denied the allegations and the primary issues involved factual disputes as to what had actually occurred. In these circumstances Andrew Williams is apt at identifying the inconsistencies and difficulties in prosecution case. Often this has led to the client’s acquittal and costs being awarded to the defendent.
There are many cases where a conviction for a charge of indecent assault will inevitably result in the defendant losing their career and their livelihood.
So, as with any sexual offence if you are charged with indecent assault talk to a Criminal Lawyer as soon as you can. Indecent assault is a serious charge. The penalties are serious and there is often complexity relating to the factual issues and law surrounding the decision to plead guilty or not guilty.
For detailed information on how Andrew Williams can assist with your matter, read our article: If You Are Charged With Assult You Need A Criminal Lawyer.