Violent behaviour is any behaviour that causes another person any injury to the body that interferes with a their health or comfort, or that places them in fear of being injured. The injury can include pain or bruising.
Violent behaviour is an offence and can carry very serious penalties.
- threatening to harm someone
- being physically intimidating, such as standing over someone.
It does not matter whether you actually mean to harm the other person or not, as long as you wanted them to believe that you would harm them.
If you commit a violent act, the crime you’re charged with will depend on:
- the injuries suffered by the victim
- what you meant to happen (your intention)
- what you should have realised would happen as a result of your actions.
Common charges relating to violent behaviour include:
- assault – including sexual assault, unlawful assault and common assault
- affray (a violent disturbance of the peace)
- causing injury or serious injury
- homicide, including manslaughter and murder
- aggravated burglary
- robbery (theft with violence or the threat of violence)
- threats to kill
- threats to inflict serious injury.
Can I be charged if I was with friends who committed a violent act, even if I didn’t take part in it?
It can be very hard to work out exactly what’s happened when there is a group of people involved in a violent act. Often everyone at the scene will be charged. ‘Affray’ (a violent disturbance of the peace) is a common charge in these circumstances.
Even if you can prove that you did not commit any of the actual violence, the police may still charge you with ‘acting in concert’. Acting in concert can include ‘inciting’ (encouraging) people committing a violent act, or if your presence prevents the victim getting away.
If the victim withdraws their complaint, will the police drop the charges against me?
Not necessarily. The police will listen to your victim’s reasons for withdrawing the complaint against you, but once charges are laid, it’s up to the police to decide whether they should be dropped. Police will usually decide based on whether there is enough to prove the charges anyway. .
What will the court take into account when deciding the penalty for my charge?
The court looks at a number of factors, including:
- what you intended or what you should have realised would happen as a result of your actions
- your , if you have one
- the severity of any injuries sustained
- whether you
- whether you are remorseful (sorry) about what you did
- if you have a problem with violence, such as a history of , whether you’ve been to any counselling to help you manage your violent behaviour.
Penalties for violent acts range from fines to community-based orders to imprisonment.
Your options at court
You have three options at court:
- admit to the charges and ask for – the diversion program means your case is treated differently. It is normally for less serious cases. You must agree to certain conditions. You do not get a .
Can I adjourn the hearing?
Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.
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Reviewed 18 May 2022