Assault Charges & Offences

Assault offences are taken very seriously within the NSW legal system. If you have been charged with an assault offence, contacting an experienced lawyer will prove imperative to achieving the best possible outcome for your case.

The team here at Hamilton Janke lawyers are experts in assault offences, including assault occasioning actual bodily harm and assault causing grievous bodily harm, and can provide advice and support to assist you in getting your best result.

What is an Assault Offence?

There are a number of different assault offences in NSW. The charge will depend on the severity of the injury that the accused is alleged to have caused.  

Types of Assault Offences

Common Assault

In NSW common assault is an offence under Section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900.

A person may be charged with common assault if they have intentionally or recklessly applied force to another person. They may also be charged with assault if they have intentionally or recklessly caused another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence.

Conduct that may amount to a common assault include: 

  • Kicking, punching or hitting a person
  • Spitting on a person 
  • Threatening to cause harm to a person

What Happens If You Get Reported for Assault?

You cannot be found guilty of this offence unless the prosecution can prove the following beyond reasonable doubt 

  • You applied force to another person OR you threatened another person with immediate violence; and 
  • You intended to do the above, or you were reckless as to the above; and 
  • The other person did not consent to your behaviour; and 
  • There was no lawful excuse for your behaviour 

Defences for Assault NSW

One defence against a charge of assault is an argument of self-defence. This requires you to satisfy the court that you believed your actions were necessary to defend yourself or another person. You must also show that your actions were a reasonable response in the circumstances as you perceived them, and were not unreasonable or excessive.

Other potential defences include duress and necessity. Duress denotes a situation where you have been threatened or intimidated to commit a crime against your will. The defence of necessity operates where circumstances are such that the accused is induced to break the law in order to avoid even more serious consequences.

Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

In NSW assault occasioning actual bodily harm is an offence under Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1900.

The legislation does not provide a specific definition of ‘actual bodily harm’. The courts have decided that the harm caused does not need to be permanent, but it must be more than ‘merely transient and trifling’. This will usually be met when the injury that is alleged to have been inflicted causes actual bodily harm.

The following injuries may amount to actual bodily harm:

  • Bruises 
  • Scratches 
  • Minor cuts and lacerations 
  • Very serious psychological harm

The maximum penalty for assault occasioning actual bodily harm is 5 years imprisonment, or 7 if the offence is committed in company. 

What Happens If You Get Reported for Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm?

You cannot be found guilty of this offence unless the prosecution can prove the following beyond reasonable doubt 

  • You applied force to another person; and 
  • You intended to apply the force, or were reckless as to whether force could be applied; and 
  • The other person did not consent to the application of force; and 
  • There was no lawful excuse for your behaviour; and 
  • Your behaviour caused actual bodily harm to the person. 

Defences for Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm NSW

If you have been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm it is vital that you seek legal advice. An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to advise you on how to plead and whether there are defences available, such as duress, necessity or self-defence. 

Looking for a Criminal Defence Lawyer Who Can Help?

If you, or someone you know, have been charged with assault, contact the team at Hamilton Janke Lawyers for experienced advice on every step of the process. Contact our expert Criminal Lawyers now

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