Common assault is a criminal offence that occurs when one person intentionally or recklessly causes another person to fear that they will be immediately subjected to physical violence.
Common assault is a criminal offence that occurs when one person intentionally or recklessly causes another person to fear that they will be immediately subjected to physical violence. It is a lesser charge than actual bodily harm (ABH) or grievous bodily harm (GBH), but it is still a serious crime that can carry significant consequences.
In many states, common assault is punishable by imprisonment, fines, and other penalties, depending on the severity of the offence and the circumstances surrounding it. In some cases, common assault may be charged as a misdemeanour, while in others it may be charged as a felony.
In order to prove that a common assault has occurred, the prosecution must show that the accused intended to cause fear of immediate violence, or that they acted recklessly in a way that caused such fear. If you have been charged with common assault, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible, as the consequences of a conviction can be significant.
If police allege that you assaulted someone without applying physical force, the prosecutor must prove that:
If police allege that you assaulted someone by unlawfully touching them, the prosecutor must prove that:
Examples include threatening someone by shouting, or moving towards someone in an intimidatory manner.
Unlawful touching/violence is any contact with another person without their consent, but which does not amount to actual bodily harm. Actual bodily harm (ABH) includes things like bruises, scratches or marks.
Examples of physical actions which may amount to common assault include slapping, punching, kicking, pushing or spitting.
If the police do not allege that you applied physical force, it must be proved that you realised the complainant might fear that they would be subjected to immediate and unlawful violence, but you continued regardless.
If police allege that you physically touched someone, it must be proved that you realised the complainant might be subjected to unlawful touching, however slight, but you continued regardless.
This will depend on a number of factors including, for example:
You may accept that you assaulted the complainant but disagree with part of what the police say happened. In these circumstances, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to change the police facts.
Though imprisonment is not a likely outcome for an offence of common assault, and there are many sentencing alternatives, it is possible that you will go to gaol if you plead guilty or are found guilty.
The maximum penalty for common assault is 2 years imprisonment, however, the type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, your criminal history and many other factors.
The court will take into account the nature of the injury, the nature of the assault and the surrounding circumstances. For example, assaults which do not involve any physical touching may be seen as less serious than a physical assault.
The court will also take into account many other factors including your personal circumstances and criminal history.
You may have a defence of self-defence available to you. This will depend on whether you believed that it was necessary to do what you did and whether what you did was reasonable in the circumstances.
Pointing a toy weapon towards someone could amount to a common assault if the complainant feared immediate and unlawful violence, for example, if they believed the weapon was real.
Bumping into someone in the street is not a common assault as long as you did not intend to bump into the person.
Not normally. Physical contact during sport is not a common assault if the touching is an expected element of the sport and the players are complying with the rules of the sport.
It is very likely that the court will record a conviction. The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, your criminal history and many other factors.
It is important that a lawyer properly prepares and presents your case to assist you in getting the best possible outcome.
A conviction is an entry on your criminal record (also referred to as your antecedents). A conviction may pose a hurdle, or a bar, to current or future employment, travel, adoption, residency, applications for citizenship or your ability to attain or hold a certain licence.
This blog is intended to provide general information about matters that often come before the court and is not legal advice. For legal advice about this offence or any other criminal offence, please reach out to us and speak to one of our lawyers on (02) 9696 1361 (Sydney) or (02) 5104 9640 (Canberra) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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