As a result of new legislation, the offence of indecent assault has been replaced with the offence of sexual touching.
You can learn about these changes here.
What is indecent assault?
Indecent assault was an offence under section 61L of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). It has since been replaced, however someone can be charged with indecent assault if the incident took place before 1 December 2018. Indecent assault occurs when:
- The accused assaulted the victim,
- The assault was “indecent”,
- The victim did not consent, and
- The accused knew that, or did not care whether, the victim was not consenting, and committed the assault anyway.
While not considered as serious as a sexual assault, this is still considered to be a serious offence.
“Indecent” is defined as “contrary to the ordinary standards of respectable people in this community”, and carries a sexual connotation or overtone. The offence does not include penetration or sexual intercourse. An allegation of indecent assault can involve inappropriate touching or fondling of breasts, buttocks or genitalia.
Aggravated indecent assault
If a person commits an indecent assault in circumstances of aggravation, under section 61M of the Act a person can be charged with aggravated indecent assault. Circumstances of aggravation include where:
- The offence was committed in company.
- The victim was under the offender’s authority.
- The victim had a serious physical disability.
- The victim had a cognitive impairment.
A person could also be guilty of aggravated indecent assault if the victim is under the age of 16 years.
The maximum penalty for indecent assault is five years imprisonment. In circumstances of aggravation it is seven years imprisonment, and 10 years imprisonment if the victim was under the age of 16.
If the offence remains in the Local Court, then the maximum penalty is two years imprisonment. Alternative penalties often include a conditional release order with conviction, community correction order or intensive correction order. Learn more about the types of penalties for criminal offences.