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What is sexual assault?

Indecent assault occurred when a person committed an act of indecency upon the victim or in the presence of the victim, before during or after the assault. It is an assault to another person committed with a sexual connotation.

For an assault to be indecent, it must have a sexual connotation or overtone. If the person, for example,  touches the victim’s body or uses any part of his body to touch the victim in a way which gives rise to a sexual connotation that is sufficient to establish that the assault was indecent. For example, it is touching the genitalia, buttocks or breasts of another person.

The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the assault was indecent. The word “indecent” means contrary to the ordinary standards of respectable people in this community. The court determines whether there is sufficient basis that the act committed was indecent based on acceptable community standards.

Under Section 61L of the Crimes Act 1900, a person found guilty of indecent assault is liable for imprisonment of 5 years when dealt with by the District Court and two years if dealt with by Local Court.

Aggravated indecent assault

Indecent assault becomes ‘aggravated” because of the presence of one or more of these circumstances under Section 61M:

  • the alleged offender is in the company of another person or persons, or
  • the alleged victim is (whether generally or at the time of the commission of the offence) under the authority of the alleged offender, or
  • the alleged victim has a serious physical disability, or
  • the alleged victim has a cognitive impairment.

In any of the cases above, the penalty imposed is much higher, imprisonment for 7 years maximum. And if committed against or in the presence a child under the age of 16 years, the penalty is 10 years imprisonment. Lesser penalties in the form of good behavior bond, home detention, or community service may also be imposed if the court finds it appropriate.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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