Street brawls, especially fights that break out between partygoers outside nightclubs or between people who are drunk in public places, can result in a person being charged with common assault.

The offence of assault requires force to have been used either directly (e.g. by punching or pushing with a hand) or indirectly (e.g. by throwing a drink) against a person. An assault can also be committed by threats and gestures.

Maximum penalty:
3 years jail (if you are found guilty of being drunk and in a public place when you commit this offence, you will also have to do community services as part of the penalty).

Assaulting or obstructing a police officer is a separate offence and is treated very seriously by the courts. Obstructing a police officer includes resisting arrest.

Maximum penalty:
40 penalty units or 6 months jail if charged under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act; or 60 penalty units or 12 months jail if the offence occurs in or near licensed premises such as a pub;

if charged under the Criminal Code with serious assault of a police officer, 7 years jail, and up to 14 years if the offence involves spitting on or biting a police officer.