What is Indecent Assault?

Indecent Assault is a particularly serious offence that often carries the risk of imprisonment upon conviction. For that reason alone, you should seek immediate advice from one of our accredited specialists in criminal law.

The offence of indecent assault involves an act of indecency occurring at the time of the assault. It is not as serious as a sexual assault but is still considered serious. It has sexual overtones because of the nature of the indecent act. The offence does not include penetration.

Often the allegation will involve inappropriate touching or fondling of breasts, buttocks or genitalia without the consent of the person touched. Certain offences are aggravated, such as the inappropriate touching of a child – where consent has no part to play.

In certain circumstances, the offence can be dealt with in the Local Court. However, sometimes the factual allegations are so serious that the matter ends up in the District Court where the penalties are much more significant.

There are inherent problems with indecent assault prosecutions unless a person is caught in the act or makes an admission. By the very nature of the offence, it is mostly committed without independent witnesses. There is frequently a delay in the complaint being made due to the age of the alleged victim or due to embarrassment or a lack of recognition that what occurred was ‘wrong’.

We have dealt with a number of defended matters over the years where false complaints have been made for a variety of reasons. Such reasons include perceived rudeness by the adult to the child (resulting in an allegation of indecent assault by touching externally on the vaginal area); an accusation against the new boyfriend of a single mother by her child because the child saw the new boyfriend as a threat to her quality time with her mother (allegation of masturbating over the child); an accusation of groping and fondling where the teenager’s immature advances to the adult male were rejected – just to pay him back!

There is no denying that indecent assaults occur and some clients seek our assistance making full admissions, wanting our expert assistance in helping them with the sentencing process. This can include gaining access to pre-trial diversion courses, counseling, pre-sentence reports and character material.

Indecent Assault FAQs

What Makes an Assault Indecent?

The act of indecency accompanies the assault – either immediately before, at the time of, or immediately after the act of assault. ’Indecency’ involves sexual connotation such as touching the breasts, genital areas etc. but falls short of sexual assault which involves penetration.

What are the Potential Penalties for Indecent Assault?

Indecent Assault can be prosecuted in the Local Court or in the District Court. Both the prosecution and the defence have the right to elect for the matter to be dealt with in the District Court. Normally the severity of the allegation and the criminal record, if any, of the accused will determine whether such election is made by the prosecution.

The penalties include up to 10 years imprisonment. Standard non-parole periods apply to this type of offence. If a person is found guilty at trial of this offence, the legislation provides a ‘guide’ of 5 years imprisonment. Imprisonment for up to 2 years is the potential penalty upon conviction in the Local Court.

Defending indecent assault allegations requires meticulous attention to detail and preparation which means that an accredited specialist in criminal law is the ideal lawyer to take charge of the matter. If you have been charged with indecent assault, contact one of our accredited criminal specialists immediately.

Arrested or A Suspect for Indecent Assault?

Seek immediate specialist advice – preferably from an accredited criminal law specialist – call our 24/7 urgent advice line.

We can advise you so that you can decide whether to take part in an interview or answer any questions and to know what your rights are. You have a right to silence. You have a right to speak with a lawyer.

Typical advice upon arrest for this type of matter would be not to take part in an interview without legal advice or to answer police questioning – similarly if you are under suspicion you really should seek advice as a matter of urgency.

You may find that Police want to conduct a forensic procedure, if you are a suspect in custody. This could involve taking a buccal swab or some other procedure. You should obtain advice and the police must afford you the oppoprtunity of seeking advice.

If you are a suspect for an indecent assault, contact our Parramatta office or Sydney office for advice prior to speaking with police. We can represent you at the police station to protect your rights, inform you of your rights, explain the procedures, and if necessary apply for bail and represent you in Court.