Assault, All too Common

Assault is one of the most common offences seen in the Local Courts of New South Wales, yet it is often misunderstood by many members of the public. Obtaining professional legal advice about this type of charge is vital to ensure that you are given every opportunity to access justice and have the matter dealt with by the courts fairly and appropriately.

Assault is both a tort in civil law and a crime that is referred to as a charge. An assault is defined as, “Any act which causes another person to fear immediate person violence (threat of force); and/or striking, touching, hitting, punching, kicking or application of force against another person (use of force).” It is well-established that “the gist of assault is fear” and assaults can vary in their severity, outcomes and punishments.

The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) classifies assault into a number of sub-categories, namely:

  • Common Assault under section 61 (this is the most basic form of assault and results in no “serious injury”);
  • Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (“AOABH”) under section 59 (this is regarded as more serious than common assault, but does not reach the prescribed threshold for a more serious assault charge, and is usually in the form of a scratch or graze etc.); and
  • Reckless Grievous Bodily Harm or Wounding (this is a more serious assault charge and is defined under section 4 of the Act to constitute: i) Any destruction of the foetus; and ii) Any permanent or serious disfiguring of the person; and iii) Any grievous bodily disease. This charge can lead to a term of imprisonment of up to ten (10) years.

Technically speaking, there are several variances in which assault can form part of a charge, comprise an element of other charges and/or be accompanied by more serious charges, including robbery and charges related to death. However, the purpose of this article is to canvass the three (3) most known, yet misconceived types of assault and the key details surrounding such charges.

When charged with assault it is important to immediately seek counsel from a legal practitioner who is familiar with the area of law, can advise you on your options in relation to pleading guilty or not guilty and guide you on the most plausible way forward to resolve the matter in your best interest.

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