The term ‘crime against a person’ relates to the category of offences which involve harming another person or putting them in danger.
Offences involving harm to a person can be committed either by the application of force or by threatening behaviour.
The most serious offences involving the application of force are cases of homicide. Offences where a person causes a serious injury (an injury or injuries which endanger life or are substantial and protracted) are also treated seriously. The most serious offences involving threatening behaviour are Extortion and Blackmail.
Engaging in reckless conduct that puts a person in danger of death or a serious injury are also serious offences.
Specific offences exist for cases where a crime against a person is committed against an emergency services worker (police officer, ambulance officer or fire attendant) or custodial officer who is on duty. These offences are treated particularly seriously by the courts.
Extortion, Blackmail, Threatening to Kill, Threatening to Inflict Serious Injury and Threatening to Damage Property are serious offences involving threats.
In the context of these offences, a wide range of actions can be considered a threat. A threat can be made orally or in writing. A threat can also be made by conduct or can be inferred by a combination of both words and conduct. A threat can also be conditional.
Threatening a person is illegal provided that the threat is genuine. The more serious criminal charges regarding threats (Extortion, Blackmail, Threat to Kill/Inflict Serious Injury/Damage Property) require the Prosecution to prove that the person making the threat either:
Was reckless to the victim fearing it would be carried out.
Therefore, the context surrounding what was said is a very important factor in assessing whether or not a threat is illegal.
A person who is charged with assault is ordinarily released on bail. This is because most of the charges which are associated with allegations of assault do not elevate an accused person into a situation where they are required to demonstrate compelling reasons to be released on bail.
However, in some cases, Police might apply for an Intervention Order to prevent any further contact between the victim and accused. Or they might impose restrictive bail conditions aimed at preventing contact and minimising the accused’s risk of reoffending.
Unless a serious injury is caused, or the assault is accompanied by other serious violent offences, assault charges are heard by a Magistrate sitting in the Magistrates’ Court.
Jail sentences are often handed down when a driver is found guilty of an offence that involves hitting a pedestrian. The reason for this is that to be guilty, a driver has to have acted contrary to road rules before or after hitting a pedestrian.
If no laws have been broken, then the driver has not committed an offence and cannot be sent to jail.
If laws have been broken, then the driver’s behaviour is often treated very seriously, because a pedestrian has been hit as a result of driving in breach of the law. In these cases, the Court’s prevailing view is to send a strong message that driving in a way that puts the wider public in danger is not to be tolerated.
The factors that often dictate the seriousness of this sort of offending are:
The driving history of the offender
The dangerousness of the driving prior to and at the time of the collision
The seriousness of the injury caused
Whether the driver rendered assistance or committed a ‘hit and run’ offence
Aggravated assault involves a common/unlawful assault under the Summary Offences Act being committed in circumstances of aggravation. The circumstances of aggravation and the increased maximum penalties are outlined in Section 24 of the Summary Offences Act.
A common/unlawful assault under the Summary Offences Act carries a maximum penalty of three months imprisonment.
However, if the assault is committed upon a male child aged below 15 or upon a female, the maximum penalty increases to six months imprisonment.
If the assault is committed in company, the maximum penalty increases to twelve months imprisonment.
If the assault is carried out by kicking or with a weapon, the maximum penalty increases to two years imprisonment.