It is an offence under section 20AA(1) of the Criminal Consolidation Act 1935 for a person to assault a police officer in the execution of their duties.
An assault is committed against a police officer if you:
- apply force to them without their consent;
- make physical contact with them knowing they might not want you to;
- threaten (with words or conduct) to apply force to them;
- do something with the intention that force will be applied to them; or
- accost or impede them in a threatening way.
Police have a choice whether to charge a person who assaults a police officer with this offence or for the offence of an aggravated assault under section 20 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935.
Our experienced criminal lawyers at Caldicott + Isaacs Lawyers are experts in all criminal matters, including the offence of assaulting a police officer.
Call us on (08) 8110 7900 to make an appointment with one of the knowledgeable lawyers at Caldicott + Isaacs Lawyers for assistance with your matter.
The maximum penalty for this offence is $10,000 or imprisonment for 5 years.
Compensation can also be ordered to be paid to the police officer if you caused injury to them or their property.
It may be a defence to the charge if:
- the police officer consenting to the assault;
- you were acting in self-defence; or
- you were defending another person.
Honest and reasonable mistake of fact (Proudman vs Dayman Defence)
If you genuinely believed that you were not committing an assault, and it was reasonable for you to hold that belief then you may have a defence to this charge.
It is a complete defence to the charge of assaulting a police officer if we can show that you were acting under duress. That is, you were acting as a result of violence, or some other threat against you. You will have a defence to this charge if we can demonstrate that you were coerced into the act by a third party, effectively rendering you an instrument of someone else’s criminal conduct.
The common law defence of necessity operates where the circumstances at hand (natural or human threats) require you to break the law in order to avoid even more dire consequences. There is, thus, some overlap with the defence of duress. It will need to be shown that you believed on reasonable grounds that you were placed in a situation of imminent peril. You may have a medical justification, or it may be the case that you were acting in the course of protecting yourself or someone else.
Essentially, the Court will need to weigh up the act you have committed, against the harm you would have experienced had you not acted in that manner. The Court will also need to be convinced that the act was proportionate to the potential harm.
The law recognises that, in some cases, people will not be capable of evaluating the nature and quality of their conduct or more categorically, they will not know what they are doing is wrong. If it can be shown that you were suffering from some sort of mental disease, disorder or disturbance, as distinguished from a mere lack of self-control or impulsiveness, then you may have a defence to this charge.
Mental impairments may be either permanent or non-permanent and may include disorders such as:
- Psychomotor epilepsy
- Cerebral arteriosclerosis
Assaulting a police officer is a summary offence and will be dealt with in the Magistrates Court of South Australia.
Come and see the professional team at Caldicott Lawyers for assistance in your assaulting police matter.