Aggravated Assault

The offence of aggravated assault is a serious and indictable offence within the NSW justice system, and a conviction can result in severe consequences for the accused. As such, charges of aggravated assault must be dealt with seriously and with the support of experienced criminal lawyers.

The team at Hamilton Janke Lawyers is equipped with the knowledge and experience necessary to navigate these serious allegations, striving to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients. Whether you’re seeking to understand the specifics of your case or need a robust legal defence, our lawyers are here to provide clear, practical guidance and support.

What is Aggravated Assault in NSW?

In NSW, ‘aggravated assault’ is not a specific offence under legislation. However, when an assault charge is carried out in an aggravating manner, the charge will be recorded as aggravated assault.

Difference Between Assault and Aggravated Assault

Anyone who assaults a person without occasioning actual bodily harm will have committed the offence of common assault under section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). There are various assault charges in the act, including: 

An assault charge is recorded where no aggravating circumstances occur during the offence, whereas aggravated assault occurs where any of the aggravating factors were present at the time of the offence.

What Makes a Crime Aggravated?

An aggravated crime is a crime that occurs in ‘circumstances of aggravation’. 

Aggravating circumstances can increase the severity of an assault charge. These factors are outlined in section 21A of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act and include:

  • If you have a criminal record for the same or similar offence,
  • Where the offence occurred in a domestic violence context; 
  • If you hold a position of authority over the victim,
  • If the offence involved the actual or threatened use of violence;
  • If you used a weapon,
  • If the offence was carried out in the company of another person (multiple offenders); 
  • If you were in breach of bail or an AVO/ADVO at the time of the offence and 
  • The act occurred in the presence of a child.

Is Aggravated Assault an Indictable Offence?

An aggravated assault charge is an indictable offence pursuant to section 3 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986. Assault charges are classified as table one offences and therefore indictable under the heading ‘offences against the person’. 

Ordinarily, a common assault charge under section 61 of the Crimes Act is dealt with by the Local Court, but the prosecution can arrange for the matter to be heard in the District Court.

Penalty for Aggravated Assault in NSW

The Crimes Act 1900 establishes a penalty for all offences in the Act. For example, the Crimes Act 1900 establishes that a common assault charge carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment. 

The maximum penalty set out for an offence within the Crimes Act 1900 is determined by consideration of the objective seriousness of the offence. The section 21A aggravating factors will be evaluated by the court. The penalty received in circumstances of aggravation will likely be higher than if the offence was carried out without the aggravating factors.

Defences for Aggravated Assault in NSW

Various criminal defences may be argued by the defence to rebut the charge of an assault in circumstances of aggravation. Successful use of these defences can lead to an acquittal where you are found not guilty of the offence. 

The defences to common assault are: 

  • Self-defence is the most common defence. It arises when you are defending yourself, another person or property. To establish self-defence, you have to believe that at the time of the assault, you fear for your safety. 
  • Duress arises when you are forced to commit the assault due to being threatened with serious injury or death.  
  • Necessity is the available defence when you commit an assault to escape an emergency situation, such as a fire or flood. 
  • Lawful Correction is a defence to assault utilised by parents or teachers when the assault of a child or pupil is committed to correct or guide the child or pupil respectively.  


The defences for an aggravated assault charge would be the relevant defences available to the specific assault you have been charged with. E.g. an Aggravated common assault would have the defences available to a standard common assault charge.

Pleading Not Guilty to Aggravated Assault Charges NSW

If you disagree with the charges made against you, you have the option to plead not guilty. Upon entering a non-guilty plea, to be convicted of the offence, the prosecution must prove the elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. 

If you choose to enter a not-guilty plea, the matter will likely proceed to a trial in which your case would be heard before a judge and a jury of 12 citizens. This allows you to provide a defence to the charges made against you if you choose to do so. In these circumstances, an experienced criminal lawyer must guide you through the criminal proceedings and ensure you receive the best outcome. 

Pleading Guilty to Aggravated Assault Charges NSW

If you choose to plead guilty to a charge of assault in aggravating circumstances, you are telling the Court that you are responsible for the offence with which you are charged. 

After entering a guilty plea, the matter will proceed to sentencing, in which the judge will determine the appropriate sentencing. 

Pleading guilty early in proceedings provides the greatest opportunity for a mitigated sentence, with the current maximum discount available for an early plea being 25%. There may also be other discounts available on sentences for providing assistance to authorities, amongst other things.

Burden of Proof

If the Police allege that you have committed an assault offence in aggravating circumstances, they must establish the offence occurred beyond reasonable doubt.

Need the Best Criminal Lawyer in NSW?

If you are being charged with criminal offences such as aggravated assault in NSW, it is vital that you seek legal advice and legal representation. Our experienced criminal lawyers will be able to advise you on how to proceed and assist you through every step of the process. Contact our expert Criminal Defence Lawyers now.

Recent Articles

Meet Your Team

Play Video

Get Legal Advice

Frequently Asked Questions

Play Video


Hamilton Janke Lawyers are one of the top rated Criminal Law Firms in the region. We treat every client with the respect and commitment they deserve. This commitment to our profession has earned us a reputation which we are very proud.

Adam Baruzzi
Read More
I could not be happier with the services I received from my lawyer James Janke. He is extremely efficient and professional. He was responsive to my phone calls and emails and was available to answer any questions I had. I will definitely be using his services in the future if need be. Thanks again James.

5 Star Review
Gary Kay
Read More
Hamilton Janke assisted me with my legal matter. James was always available and made sure that I properly understood my options. His knowledge of the law was invaluable. Highly recommend

5 Star Review