Articles:

Will Smith Slap - Would He Face Criminal Charges if it Happened in Australia?

Will Smith assaults Chris Rock

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars. If this happened in Australia would he have faced criminal charges?

Last week at the Hollywood Oscar’s ceremony, Will Smith slapped comedian and master of ceremonies, Chris Rock, in the face, over a joke Chris Rock made about Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith’s hair.

Ms Pinkett-Smith suffers alopecia, a medical condition which causes hair loss.

Later in the evening Will Smith was awarded the Oscar for Best Actor. In his acceptance speech he apologised to everyone, except, rather notably, Chris Smith. He received a standing ovation.

Reports suggest that he was asked to leave the event by organisers but refused to do so. The Academy has since issued a statement to the effect that it could have handled the situation better and that it will be considering disciplinary action at an upcoming meeting.

 

Statement from the Los Angeles Police Department

The day after the Oscars the story had gone viral on the internet. It was around the the same time as Will Smith was issuing an apology to Chris Rock via Instagram.

In the same time frame the Los Angeles Police Department issued a statement saying that it was aware of the incident, that Chris Rock had declined to press charges, and the LAPD therefore would also not prosecute Mr Smith. It appears that in the some parts of the US, when dealing with less serious type offending, the police tend to only bring criminal charges if the alleged victim wants them to do so.

The situation in Australia is quite different. The police policy here tends to be to prosecute criminal charges if there is sufficient evidence which is capable of supporting a conviction.

Under Western Australian law, Will Smith’s actions would have been considered a criminal offence and it is most likely that the WA police would have prosecuted if the slap had of occurred in this state..   

 

Common Assault – what does the law say?

Common assault is an application of force or threatened force to another without that person’s consent. This includes actions such as pushing, slapping, striking and kicking. However, touching another person may also be considered common assault if it is accompanied by intimidation or coercion or threats of violence.

Furthermore, for an assault to occur it isn’t necessary for the victim and the accused to come into physical contact. The offence may occur if there is a threatened application of force such as the throwing of an object towards the victim and the object coming into close range of the victim.

Spitting, towards another may also constitute an assault and would likely be considered serious, particularly in this day and age where the risk of transmission of disease is a serious concern.

Is Common Assault a Serious Charge?

Common Assault is a summary offence and it is dealt with in the Magistrates Court. It carries a maximum penalty of 18 months and a fine of $18,000.

More serious assault charges include aggravated common assault, assault occasioning bodily harm, and grievous bodily harm.

An assault may be considered to be committed in circumstances of aggravation if the offence is committed in the following circumstances:

  • Where the accused and the victim are in a domestic relationship
  • Where a child is present at the time of the offence;
  • Where the accused is subject to a violence restraining order for the benefit of the victim;
  • Where the victim is not younger than 60 years;
  • Where the circumstances of the offence are racially motivated.

What the Prosecution Must Prove

In order to prove that an offence of common assault has been committed the prosecution must satisfy the court beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • There has been an application of force or threatened force from the accused to the victim;
  • That application of force or threatened force was executed without the victim’s consent;
  • The application of force was done so intentionally or recklessly;
  • The assault was not justified, authorised or excused by law.

 Some possible defences to the charge of common assault include provocation or self defence, accident, and extraordinary emergency.

 

Toxic masculinity in the spotlight

Much of the debate over the Will Smith incident has been focused on whether the actor’s response was appropriate in the circumstances. He was, some say, standing up for his wife.

There are also those who believe that the joke itself was insulting and in extremely poor taste. But the fact of the matter is that Mr Smith could have chosen a more passive response.

Words can be much, much more effective than a ‘slap’, particularly when they are chosen wisely. Mr Smith had a worldwide audience – it was his moment to show us that men, and Hollywood too, have moved past violence, and are able to find other ways to communicate or process their emotions. 

It is a moment that Will Smith would clearly regret.

In any event it has initiated an important conversation around how men express their frustrations, anger or other emotions and how they can do so, without using violence.

 

We Can Help

If you have been charged with a criminal offence in relation to assault and need representation from an Perth Criminal Lawyer, contact the Andrew Williams Criminal Law Offices without delay on (08) 9278 2575.

PLEASE NOTE: The material in this blog post is for informational use only and should not be construed as legal advice. For answers to your questions regarding this or other topics, please contact a professional legal representative.

Contact our lawyers now

At Andrew Williams Criminal Law we're here to help you with the best legal advice.

Testimonials Hear from our valued Clients

Words cannot express my gratitude for Andrew agreeing to take my case on, commit to returning from annual leave early, and the personal support and legal expertise provided in defending the driving charges made against me.

The delays I experienced by the two adjournments, while prolonging my anxiety and reducing my faith that I would receive a favourable outcome, worked very ...

Rel M
Rel M

I had Andrew deal with my case recently and couldn't of been happier with the result he got for me. From the start Andrew was quick to reply to any questions and queries I had regarding my matter. He was very professional in my opinion, very easy to talk to and explained things quite well. I felt very comfortable in the courtroom knowing that Andrew wanted to get the best result he could for me, and I would highly recommend Andrew Williams to ...

Colin W

I was on a very tight rope where, if it balanced the wrong way, it would have totally devastated my life. Andrew was honest through the entire process preparing me for the worst but never let me give up and thankfully with his help got a great outcome that let me move forward with my family. I cant praise Andrew enough and recommend him 100%.

...

Jason M

I cannot thank Andrew enough for his support and would not hesitate recommending your service to anyone who would need your help. I am eternally grateful to Andrew Williams who kept me informed as and when he had to and had no doubt in his professionalism. Thank you.

...

Pamela J
Pamela J

Had Andrew defend a reckless driving charge. He gave good solid advice throughout the process and defended me well at the trial. His costs were affordable and he was a great guy in general. The most important thing is we were able to have the charges dismissed via a not guilty verdict. I would recommend him to anyone.

...

Joly M
Joly M

Andrew represented me recently in a few difficult situations. I found him to be very professional, easily contactable and generally wanting a good outcome for me. I've passed his contact info to friends and if I ever need legal representation again I'll definitely be using his services.

...

Ryan B
Ryan B

After making several calls to various law firms, I came across Andrew Williams who was quick to respond providing knowledgeable, honest and friendly legal advice. At all times I felt confident in Andrew's ability to defend the charges. The case went to trial with an outcome of not guilty. I was awarded full legal costs. Could not be happier.

...

Matt K
Matt K

Andrew was fantastic to deal with. His courtroom demeanor and skills were apparent. He was always able to assist with a complex matter across nearly 3 years in rural WA. Would highly recommend his services.

...

Wesley H
Wesley H

Of my limited experiences in the judicial system, I can’t rate Andrew Williams highly enough. He was fantastic on my day in court and was very straight up during my consultations. He is such an awesome person, and the best professional criminal lawyer I have ever encounter. Need help call Andrew.

...

Aaron J

Andrew was brilliant with my case and achieved the best outcome. He was very professional and was very impressive in the submissions he presented to the magistrate. Again, I can't thank you enough Andrew.

...

Danni H

Andrew was very preffesional and welcoming when dealing with my case.

In the court room I felt at ease knowing andrew was representing me.

I would highly reccomend andrew for everyone no matter how big or small the case is!

...

Harry

Thanks a lot for handling my case and getting the pleasant outcome. Since the first time I talked to you I have known that my case was in a capable hands. I am impressed by your knowledge and confidence which gave me confidence. Cheers.

...

Joe Y

Thank you so much Andrew for grooming me and going over the process over and again. It was a traumatic time for me and you kept me focused. I really appreciate your guidance and we came out with the best result.

I wouldn't of been able to hold up as I did if not for your valued support.

Sincerely, Kyley.

...

Kyley S

Andrew was very approachable, knowledgeable, professional and focused on the best outcome. I would always recommend him.

...

Kieran C

My personal experience with Andrew Williams was a pleasant one from day one. In the midst of a police raid and the inability to find legal representation I considered myself done for when Andrew took the time to call me back after I contacted his office (during which time he was in trial). Upon soliciting some legal advice, Andrew was straight with me and I made an appointment with him in which he clearly explaine...

Franciosco R

I was charged with the offence of aggravated common assault. I engaged Andrew Williams to act for me.

From the first time I met Andrew I knew that I was in the right hands. His level of professionalism both in and out of the court room was very impressive. Following a two day trial in the Perth Magistrates Court, I was found not guilty.

Andrew Williams assisted me through a very stressful peri...

Kyran H

My wife and I were so glad that we chose Andrew Williams to handle our sons Reckless Driving charge. What a relief to know we have people like him around to help.

Besides a failure to indicate and cutting the corner of a very sharp S bend in the road all other allegations by Police were not substantiated. After using a previous Law firm that basically told us that it was the 2 Police Office...

George M

I have nothing but good things to say about Andrew and his law services. He helped me more than I could possibly ask for during a difficult time facing the court. He was very efficient and precise and always happy to help and answer questions even last minute and after hours.

I believe he charges a very fair price considering the amount of work he put in for me to achieve the best possible result in cour...

Trent W

I trusted that Andrew was the person to defend my case in our initial contact on the phone. He was very confident in his approach, from the first point of contact to the court room. I believe this must be from years of experience. Another added bonus for Andrew is that he is very honest and fair. He tells you like it is in the book of law and does not appear manipulative. His communicat...

Abraham A

Unhappy with my then representation, I went searching for a new criminal lawyer. Andrew responded quickly and professionally to my enquiry. It was quickly apparent during the first meeting that Andrew was knowledgeable, honest and was committed to getting us the best possible outcome. Andrew looked at all avenues available to me in a Magistrates Court matter. He negotiated on my behalf with the pros...

Timothy R

After being charged with Common Assault of a minor I made a sensible decision not to use the local Kununurra law firm. I engaged Andrew Williams to assist me with resolving this matter (to the point of me being awarded costs). Despite being 4000km away I never had any issues with Andrew's commitment to my case. He promptly returned all calls and demanded I do likewise when important information needed to be e...

David C

Andrew Williams is a criminal laywer of much dedication I will never have the words of gratitude and admiration for his honesty and integrity I would highly recommend him to anyone who may require his services in the future

...

Helen M

I just wanted to take my time to explain my experience with Andrew Williams. I had an incident that could have really affected my future. As anyone does I called around all the lawyers in Perth and just not any lawyer but the ones who are highly respected amongst other lawyers and get the results. I have a friend who works in the industry and she recommended Andrew. She said she always sees Andrew in the paper with amazing outcomes to cases th...

Phillip C

Very happy with my representation and fair fees by Andrew, I highly recommend him.

...

Damian A

I found dealing with Andrew Williams Law Firms to be quite pleasant and professional. I have nothing but utmost regard for this firm and would recommend anyone who needs a good criminal lawyer.

...

Andrew H

If you want to get the best lawyer money can buy and get results? Look no further than Andrew Williams and get him in your corner. Not only is he a great guy I found his legal services very professional and knowledgeable and his attention to detail was faultless. This was a very tumultuous time in my life I was facing two criminal charges and my anxiety and stress levels were through the roof, but thanks to Andr...

Dan G

Go to top