Assault Criminal Offences

April 23, 2021

People across Australia, especially in NSW are pressed every single day with violent crimes and some of these crimes can be attributed to the crime of assault.  Assault as defined by law is the intentional or reckless actions of a person causing to fear imminent and unlawful violence to another.   Furthermore,  assault may also occur when there is a use of light, heat, electricity, odour, gas or any substances that may peril or prejudice the well-being of a person.

Hence, if you are under investigation of such a crime, our team of criminal lawyers can help you. No matter how complicated your case may be, we practice in our utmost knowledge and ability to guide you through the whole process.

Kinds of Assault

The crime of assault has five main types that can be inferred from the nature of the offence, the underlying circumstances from which it occurred, and the injury sustained. 

  • Common Assault

Of all the types of assault, common assault leads to the most charged crimes in Australia since it can easily arise from simple disputes and scuffles. The Crimes Act 1900 defines common assault as the act of assaulting any person not occasioning actual bodily harm. This can be manifested in actions such as punching, kicking, pushing, shoving and spitting.  Moreover,  it can only be considered as a common assault if there was no actual physical harm caused or only a very small amount. Furthermore, there is also common assault in cases where a person threatens another even without inflicting physical harm. Thus, any person found guilty of this crime shall suffer 2-year imprisonment.

  • Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm

This second type of assault arises on the occasion that the offended party suffers any kind of bodily injury, such as swelling or bruising. Section 24 of the Crimes Act 1900 states that the assault occasioning bodily harm is done by a person who assaults another person and by the assault occasions actual bodily harm. Normally, this may include injuries that would affect a person’s health and comfort which would then require little or minor medical attention or leave from work. As jurisprudence states that such injury sustained does not need to be of a permanent character but must be more than merely transient or trifling. This crime is aggravated by circumstances wherein weapons, or the threat of weapons was used to inflict bodily harm.  There is also an aggravated assault occasioning bodily harm if the offence was committed against a pregnant woman and has caused the loss of, or serious harm to, the pregnancy; or the death, or serious harm to the child born alive as a result of the pregnancy. Nonetheless, a defendant cannot be charged with an aggravated offence if he has no knowledge and could have not reasonably known of such pregnancy.

Being charged with the offence of assault occasioning bodily harm carries with it a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment with a fine. If the offence carries with it aggravating circumstances, the penalty is increased to 7 years imprisonment and with a fine.

  • Unlawful Wounding

Unlawful wounding usually occurs under circumstances pertaining to breaking or penetration to the outer skin which results in bleeding. Under the law, a person is guilty of unlawful wounding if it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that the person charged unlawfully wounded another person.  The term wounding is construed to mean that the true skin is penetrated or broken.  One common example of unlawful wounding is that of a serious nature is the hitting of a person with a glass or glass bottle (glassing) which in turn transforms it into an aggravating circumstance. It is the mere penetration of the outer skin layer and not only the breaking of the skin that determines unlawful wounding. That is why medical evidence is material to justify the charge of the injury sustained.  

  • Grievous Bodily Harm

This is considered one of the most serious offences among the types of assault. This takes place when the victim has sustained serious disfigurement, loss of limb or bones and worse, loses a distinct part of an organ as a result of the assault.  The law defines such assault as any bodily injury that is of a serious nature, if left without medical attention,  would result in a permanent injury or likely to endanger a person’s life.  These injuries could pertain to broken bones or teeth or to more severe endangering injuries such as internal bleeding and head injuries.

The Criminal Code Act of 1899 lays out how grievous bodily harm may be committed in any of the following manners;  the offence may be committed by intentionally causing grievous bodily harm, unlawfully doing grievous bodily harm and dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm.  Furthermore, the law also sets out how the offence may be aggravated by the following circumstances; the accused was part of a criminal group,  the act was committed in a public place or if the accused was under the influence of an intoxicating substance, the act was deemed domestic violence.  Due to the serious nature of this offence, the court has imposed a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment without an allegation of any aggravating circumstances. However, if the grievous bodily harm was intentional, then the imposed maximum penalty against the accused would be 25 years which carries with it a 7-year non-probational period.

  • Sexual Assault

One of the major health and welfare issues in NSW is sexual assault. According to NSW Government Victim Services, sexual assault comprises a wide range of term encompassing all sexual offences against adults and children. (1) It is a type of violence that occurs when a person is offensively touched, there is inducement on the offended party to commit an act of gross indecency or someone is forced to witness an act of gross indecency. Gross indecency relating to this kind of assault is defined by law as an act that does not result in penetration but involves offensive touching. Moreover, Women’s Service NWS says that sexual assault is also specifically described by law to take place when any person has sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of the other person and who knows that the latter does not consent to the sexual intercourse. (2)

Sexual assault can be aggravated in nature when,

    1. a weapon is used or is threatened to be used when the victim is minor or disabled
    2. the abuser committing the crime is an authority figure  

Mardini Defence Lawyers are here to help you with your case, call us today on (02) 8677 8292 to discuss further.

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