Assault Offences

Common Assault.

Common Assault may be committed intentionally or recklessly.  It requires unlawful physical contact or causing someone to fear unlawful physical contact.  The maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment.

It is not necessary to prove an intention to assault the victim. Recklessness is sufficient. For example, if you threaten without intending to put that person in fear, but you “foresaw” the likelihood of causing fear and then decided to ignore that risk, that is sufficient.

One of the most common defences to a charge of common assault is self defence. Self defence requires the accused to believe their conduct was necessary to defend themselves or another and what they did was a reasonable response in the circumstances.

Once self defence is raised by an accused, the prosecution must disprove it beyond reasonable doubt.

Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm.

Assault occasioning actual bodily harm involves an assault which causes bodily harm or actual injury to the complainant.  This is reflected in the increased maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.  The bodily harm does not have to be permanent but must be more than “merely transient and trifling”. R v Donovan [1934] KB 498.

If the assault is committed in the company of another person the maximum penalty is 7 years imprisonment.

As with any assault, it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that the accused intended to assault the victim. It is sufficient for the prosecution to establish that the accused was reckless in this regard.

One of the most common defences to assault occasioning actual bodily harm is self defence.  Challenges to the allegations can be mounted in relation to whether the injuries were caused by the accused, or that they do not constitute actual bodily harm.

As with any offence, even after a finding of guilt a court can still decide not to record a conviction under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.

Assault Police Officer

The assault of police officers is considered a serious offence.  The offence carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

Penalties for aggravated offences include:

1. by being committed during a public disorder – 7 years imprisonment

2. if actual bodily harm is caused as a result of the assault – 7 years imprisonment (3 years standard non-parole period)

3. by being committed during a public disorder AND results in actual bodily harm – 9 years imprisonment

There are also separated offences for those who recklessly inflict grievous bodily harm or wounding on a police officer.