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Assaulting a Police Officer

Assaulting a police officer is a serious crime under NSW law. The offence is considered to be an attack on the authority of the state and the safety of those who serve and protect the community. Anyone found guilty of this offence can face significant penalties, including imprisonment.

Assault

NSW law defines assault as intentionally or recklessly causing another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence. This definition includes any physical contact or touching or any action that causes a person to feel threatened or fearful for their safety. Physical contact is not an essential element of the offence of assault.  For more information regarding the offence of assault of the general population, please see the dedicated article Types of Assault.

Assault of a Police Officer

This can include, but is not limited to, any of the following actions:

  1. Striking, pushing, or kicking a police officer;
  2. Throwing objects at a police officer;
  3. Spitting on a police officer; and
  4. Using a weapon or any other object to assault a police officer.

Section 60(1AA) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) sets out offences against law enforcement officers in addition to assault such as, resisting arrest or obstructing a police officer in the performance of their duties.  The maximum term of imprisonment for a person found guilty of this offence is 12 months.

It is important to note that assaulting a police officer is a crime regardless of whether the officer was on duty or off duty at the time of the offence. NSW law also considers anyone who aids, abets, or incites an assault on a police officer to be just as guilty as the person who carried out the assault.

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Penalties

Assaulting a police officer is considered to be an aggravated offence under NSW law, which means that the penalties are more severe than for a standard assault charge. Section 60 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) encompasses several offences committed against police officers while performing their duties. The severity of the penalty will depend on the type and circumstances of the offence, including the level of violence used and whether any injuries were sustained by the police officer. The maximum penalty for assaulting a police officer in NSW is 14 years’ imprisonment.

In addition to imprisonment, other penalties for assaulting a police officer can include fines and community service orders.

Defences

A person may have a defence if it can be argued that:

  1. They are not the person who actually assaulted the officer;
  2. The act did not satisfy the definition of assault, or they did not commit the assault as claimed;
  3. They did not have the intention to assault a police officer;
  4. The officer was not carrying out their duties lawfully during the incident;
  5. They were acting in self-defence, under duress or necessity;
  6. The injury was not severe enough to qualify as actual or grievous bodily harm (where the charge includes occasioning actual or grievous bodily harm:); or
  7. The prosecution cannot prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt based on admissible evidence, which may include arguments challenging the admissibility of evidence.

How can BSM help?

If you are charged with assaulting a police officer or a related charge, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Our team of experienced criminal lawyers can help you understand the charges against you and develop a defence strategy or a strategy to plead guilty and minimise the penalties you face.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

We are conveniently located in Sutherland, Parramatta, Sydney CBD and Wollongong.

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