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Time limit

Is there a time limit for commencement of a common assault charge?

  • By:Anderson Boemi

When NSW Police receive a complaint or information about an offence, they will usually start their investigations. During their investigations police will decide on whether there is enough evidence to lay charges against an accused person. Police will also identify the time and type of the alleged offence.

In NSW criminal offences are usually divided into two types of offences: summary and indictable. The Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (‘the Act’)  provides which offences can be dealt with summarily and which offences can be deal with on indictment.

A summary offence is a less serious criminal offence. Common examples are offensive conduct and indecent language. Indicatable offences are more serious types of offences that include most assault charges and sexual charges.

In New South Wales, pursuant to section 179 of the Act, a summary offence must be commenced no later than 6 months. From when the offence was alleged to have been committed. It must be noted that that the 6-month rule will not apply if legislation specified, states that there is a different limitation period.

There is no time limit to commence proceedings for an indictable offence. This means that the police can charge a person with an offence many years after it is alleged to have occurred. The difficulty for the prosecution is that it may also be much more difficult to defend.

If you have received a charge from the NSW Police and need advice in relation to your matter. Please contact our office on 02 9653 9466.



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Posted in: Criminal Defence