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Changes to the Law Surrounding ‘Serious’ Assaults

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Recent changes to the law surrounding serious assaults will mean that parole may not be available for people convicted of certain offences.

From April 2014, a person who assaults a public officer, a category which includes police officers, and does them bodily harm, will not only face mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment, but will also find that they will be ineligible for parole.

The changes, which came about after an offender convicted of a serious assault was released on parole after serving 4 months of a nine month term of imprisonment, are designed to send the message that serious assaults will be dealt with harshly.

The amendments follow earlier amendments that imposed minimum terms of imprisonment for serious assaults back in 2009, which imposed minimum terms of 6, 9 and 12 months for serious assaults.

While the minimum terms of imprisonment are significant, the courts can and frequently do impose terms of imprisonment that are greater than the minimum. For example, a serious assault dealt with in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 3 years and a $36,000.00 fine. If dealt with in the District Court of Western Australia, it is punishable by way of a term of imprisonment of up to 7 years, increasing to 10 years if there are particular aggravating factors.

As always, the Courts will consider any submissions made as to mitigating factors, as well as any reports, documents or case law presented by the accused or their legal counsel, before imposing sentence.

Disclaimer:

While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of its contents, this article does not constitute, and is not intended to be, legal advice. All cases differ in their circumstances and the only way to obtain reliable legal advice applicable to your circumstances is to arrange a consultation with Stevenson Legal.

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