Violence in Clubs and bars and Assault Charges
The bars and clubs that line the streets of the Sydney CBD (Central Business District) are constantly brimming with young locals and tourists who wish to engage in the merriment and celebration Sydney nightlife has to offer.
Recreational alcohol consumption has always been at the forefront of Sydney nightlife, with individuals utilising it as a way to accelerate their enjoyment and experiences. If consumed in excess however, intoxication can have the opposite effect and lead to potentially damaging consequences that can change the trajectory of someone’s life forever.
Recently, New South Wales has been privy to the ‘one-punch’ epidemic, where a punch thrown in the heat of moment leads to the taking of another individual’s life.
Additionally, alcohol fuelled riots that eventuate in clubs, bars and on the streets surrounding them, also allow innocent bystanders to be caught in a situation that only leads to dire results.
The following scenario provides an example of a violence and assault situation:
On New Year’s Eve 2014, David walks into a busy nightclub in Sydney’s famous nightlife destination King’s Cross – where he accidentally bumps into William, another patron. William had been at this club for two hours already and in that time, had consumed vast amounts of alcohol. Agitated, William shoved David back aggressively telling him to “get lost”. Across the dance floor David’s good friend, Ryan, who is also heavily intoxicated, spots the altercation between David and William. He gestures to his group of friends nearby and they approach William. William turns his attention to Ryan immediately and Ryan throws a punch at William.
At that moment, William’s twin brother Jacob walks into the club,accompanied by a group of their friends. They see William being propelled backwards by the punch and Jacob rushes toward Ryan. In retaliation, Jacob punches Ryan, which causes both groups to engage in a large-scale brawl inside the nightclub. They are subsequently separated by security guards and kicked out of the establishment, where police are called to subdue the situation. Still heated by the events, William, who is still heavily intoxicated, throws a punch at a young man walking by with his girlfriend that connects with the back of his head. The young man falls forward and sustains a grievous head injury and dies on the scene.
As a way to police this sort of situation, New South Wales lawmakers have enacted a series of new laws that are designed to foster deterrence by way of harsh penalties for offenders.
Because of the thriving nightlife culture in Sydney, it is therefore important to be apprised of the legal consequences of such actions, as situations as the one described above happen more frequently than one might perceive.
Assault and Intoxication Act 2012 No. 2
On the 31st of January 2014, the N.S.W. Government enacted the Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Act 2012 No. 2. Under the newly inserted sections of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), Section 25A, introduces a new type of assault, referred to as an ‘assault causing death’. Under this section, a maximum penalty of 20 years is imposed and 25 years if the offender is above the age of 18 and is intoxicated. Furthermore, the introduction of section 25B imposes a minimum mandatory sentence of 8 years for such offenders. Thus, under these new laws, William (in the above example), is now in jeopardy of serving a minimum of 8 years to a maximum of 25 years for the mere act of punching a bystander while intoxicated.
Violence and Assault laws under the Crimes Act 1900.
However, William is not the only one subject to penalties under the legal system. The other males are subject to the regular assault laws under the Crimes Act 1900.
Common assault is addressed under section 61 and states that offenders of common assault are liable to imprisonment for two years. But given the gravity of the altercation, it is likely that their actions caused bodily harm, which subsequently makes them liable to the penalties imposed for aggravated assault.
Section 59 primarily deals with aggravated assault occasioning actual bodily harm and under this section; an offender is liable to 5 years imprisonment.
Affray charges under section 93C of the Crimes Act:
Furthermore, because the incident involved a number of people, they might also be subject to Affray charges under section 93C of the Crimes Act, which regulates violence used or threatened in situations involving two or more people. Under this section, they might potentially be subject to 10 years imprisonment if their case is heard in the district court – a significant increase from the 2 years imposed if the matter is heard in the local court.
These laws and their penalties work to illustrate the dire consequences that can arise out of such situations and how a simple, good night out can quickly escalate into a devastating chain of events.
Do you have a pending assault charge?
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