How long after an assault can you press charges in WA?

According to section 21 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2004 of Western Australian Legislation,

“A prosecution of a person for a simple offence must be commenced within 12 months after the date on which the offence was allegedly committed, unless another written law provides otherwise or the person consents to it being commenced at a later time.”

This means that you can press assault charges a year later only if the law provides for it or the person consents commencing it at a later time. Additionally, there is a maximum limit to press charges which is mentioned as:

In general, according to section 16 (b) of Limitation Act, 2005 of Western Australian Legislation,

“An action for assault cannot be commenced if 3 years have elapsed since the cause of action accrued.”

However, depending on the types of assault, the time limit within which a victim can press charges varies. This is because each state has its own rules on statutes of limitations.

So, how long can you press charges after an assault in Australia?  To answer this, we will look into different types of assaults and if there are any limitations laid by local statute.

The first step is to identify whether the assault charge is for summary offence or indictable assault. Summary offences are also known as simple assault and indictable offences are more commonly known as crimes. Western Australia has a third category known as “either way” offence which is dealt with as either summary or indictable offence depending on the situation.

The prosecution would require information about the place the crime was committed or how much time has passed after the crime took place and whether “it was a simple common assault or Indictable assault.

Simple Assault / Summary offence

Simple assault is a criminal offence that is committed when a person threatens or attempts to injure another individual by any kind of bodily harm. This involves pushing someone in an argument, threatening a person by raising a fist and moving towards them, or even verbal threats given to an individual is a crime. Other kinds of simple offences include traffic offences like drinking and driving.

The outcome of these criminal convictions is finalized in the Magistrates Court. A police prosecutor generally represents the state of the matter.


How long after an assault can you press charges in Australia?

The answer to this question is the same as for ‘How Long After A Simple Assault Can You Press Charges?’

As per section 21 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2004, within 12 months’ time, police must charge for a simple assault except for a situation wherein the legislation extends the period.


Indictable Assault / Crime

Criminal charges which are more serious in nature are known as Indictable Assault. In this kind of offence, the accused has a right to trial by the jury.

These crimes include sexual offences, serious assault, murder, grievous bodily harm, serious fraud, burglary, criminal damage, kidnapping, commercial theft, arson, conspiracy, robbery, drug offence, and more including attempts made to commit them.

The crime act being of serious nature attracts greater penalty by criminal law both in terms of fines and imprisonment. The maximum penalty in terms of imprisonment can be lifetime jail.

The outcome of these criminal convictions is finalized in the Magistrates Court and proceeds to either the District Court of WA or the Supreme Court of WA.


How long after an assault can you press charges in Australia?


From a victim’s standpoint, for an ‘indictable’ or ‘either way’ offence there is no time limit for charging someone. This means that the cops in WA can carry out a police investigation and can charge a person for an indictable offence or ‘either way’ offence years, or even decades after the assault has been committed.

Moreover, from an accused standpoint, according to section 91 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Act 2004,

“Accused may be required to plead at any time; A court may require an accused to plead to a charge in an indictment at any time after the indictment is lodged with the court.”

To get the right legal advice from law firms Perth on this matter it is also important to know:

How Much Time Does the Prosecutor Have to File Charges?

Ideally, criminal lawyers or an appointed prosecutor must file charges within 48 to 72 hours if the accused is in police custody. However, if this is not the case and if the accused is not in jail, in that case, for an experienced criminal lawyer to file charges, it may take days, weeks, or even months.

Moreover, even after the assault charge is filed, criminal lawyers have the liberty to amend the charges, drop some, or all of them if sufficient evidence is collected or depending on the circumstance.

It is important for the prosecutor and the victim filing a court case to abide by the statute of limitations. These are time frames set by the legislation for filing criminal charges.

As discussed previously, indictable assaults being a more severe kind of crime have a longer statute of limitations. For crimes involving bodily harm and physical assault (like physical injury, sexual abuse, and the like) most states like Western Australia have no time limits for filing charges.

However, there are limitations to filing for a simple assault or a first-time impaired driving offense. This could be two years or less depending on the state rules.

Talk to a Criminal Lawyer today

The best way to move forward is to have a degree of certainty and seek justice. A criminal lawyer can navigate you with the best criminal procedure and help you answer ‘how long after an assault can you press charges in Australia’ if your case is more complicated.

On the other hand, if you are concerned about self defence and false accusations without a reasonable doubt, then it is best to not have a criminal record follow you as this can potentially have consequences on your housing, fines, fees, jobs, and more. Call WN Legal for the best legal advice. Book your free 30 min consultation by calling us on 08 9349 2196