The Law of Sexual Assault: A Brief Guide

What is Sexual Assault?

In Victoria, sexual assault (Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), Section 40(1)) is where a person intentionally touched another person in a sexual way and the other person did not consent to the touching. Further, the person who touched the other person knew that the other person did not consent to the touch. Lastly, it is irrelevant whether the person who touched honestly believed that the touching was not sexual.

If the court decides that the person is guilty of sexual assault, the maximum penalty which they may receive is 10 years imprisonment.

Outcomes From Past Cases


In the Magistrates Court, from 2013 to 2016, 30.4% of people who were found guilty of sexual assault were sentenced to prison; 17.4% of people were fined; 32.6% of people were ordered a ‘community corrections order;’ and the remainder 19.6% of people were either placed on an ‘adjourned undertaking’, ‘discharged’, or ‘dismissed’ (scroll down for definitions). This is displayed in the graph below.

Sexual Assault Rates in Australia (1997 - 2017)

Sexual Assault Outcomes (2013 - 2016)

 
 

If the person was sentenced to prison, 42.9% were sentenced to less than 3 months, 21.4% to 3 to 6 months, 7.1% to 6 to 12 months, 7.1 % 12 to 18 months, 7.1% to 18 to 24 months, 14.3% to 24 to 36 months, and 0% to more than 36 months. This is displayed in the graph below.

Prison Sentence Lengths

Definitions

Community Corrections Order: This is were the person is able to serve their sentence outside of prison and in the community supervised. However, there is a list of conditions which must be followed.

Adjourned Undertaking: This is were the person is able to serve their sentence outside of prison and in the community unsupervised. However, there is a list of conditions which must be followed.

Discharged: This is where the person is held guilty, however, the court the person is released but with a criminal record.

Dismissed: This is where the person is held guilty, however, the court orders that the person is released without a criminal conviction or a penalty.

 
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