Assault 

Assault Lawyers in Newcastle, Sydney, Lake Macquarie and Central Coast NSW
assault

Assault 

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

 

Different types of assault include:

  • Common assault 
  • Assault occasioning actual bodily harm
  • Causing grievous bodily harm or wounding 

 

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 includes:

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

 

In NSW the maximum penalty for common assault is 2 years imprisonment. 

 

What does the prosecution have to prove? 

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 

 

How do I defend myself?  

If you have been charged with common assault 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. 

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 does the prosecution have to prove? 

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 cased actual bodily harm to the person. 

 

How do I defend myself?  

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. 

 

Causing grievous bodily harm or wounding 

Causing grievous bodily harm or wounding to a person is a really serious offence. Penalties can range from 7 – 25 years imprisonment. 

There are a variety of different offences that you might be charged with if you are accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm on a person. 

The offence youre charged with will depend on whether the police can prove that you intended to inflict harm on the alleged victim. 

 

The different offences include: 

 

What is grievous bodily harm? 

Grievous bodily harm is defined in the Crimes Act. It includes: 

  • any permanent or serious disfiguring of the person, 
  • any grievous bodily disease (in which case a reference to the infliction of grievous bodily harm includes a reference to causing a person to contract a grievous bodily disease).
  • the destruction of the foetus of a pregnant woman, whether or not the woman suffers any other harm, (other than in the course of a medical procedure) 

 

What is wounding? 

An injury which breaks the interior layer of the skin (called the dermis) is classified as wounding under the law. Merely piercing the top layer of the skin will not amount to wounding

Wounding is is commonly caused by a weapon (such as a knife), but this is not a requirement under the law. 

 

Alternative verdicts 

It is important to note that the legislation contains an alternative verdict provision for intent and reckless GBH offences. This means that if the judge or jury acquits you of one offence, they may still find you guilty of another. 

For example, if you have been charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent but the jury decides that you did not intend to cause the injury, they have the power to convict you of reckless grievous bodily harm instead. 

 

How can I defend myself? 

 If you have been with an offence involving wounding or the infliction of grievous 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 or self-defence. 

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