Assault occasioning actual bodily harm is a commonly prosecuted offence that involves some actual harm or injury to the victim. This charge has a wide scope from cuts and bruises to serious psychological harm.
It is a more serious offence than a charge of common assault, which is reflected in its maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment. However, assault occasioning actual bodily harm is mostly dealt with in the Local Court. In the Local Court, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment.
It is up to the Prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused caused bodily harm, intentionally or recklessly and without lawful excuse or consent.
There are a number of defences which may be relevant to your case, including:
- Not intending to assault the victim or recklessly cause harm
- That the injury is not actual bodily harm in the legal sense
Can I avoid a conviction?
However, this sentencing option is not always appropriate or attainable even if an offender has no prior criminal history due to the serious nature of assault occasioning actual bodily harm offences. A magistrate is required to take into account the following factors when considering whether to impose a conviction:
- The person’s character, antecedents, age, health and mental condition;
- The nature of the offence;
- The circumstances in which the offence was committed; and
- Any other matter that the court thinks proper to consider.
Will I go to jail?
In the Local Court, this offence does have a 2-year maximum penalty but there are a number of different ways a magistrate can deal with your case. For the full range of penalties that can be imposed, see our Sentencing Options page.
The penalty that the Magistrate chooses depends on:
- The extent of the injuries caused
- The degree of violence or force
- Whether the assault was committed intentionally or recklessly
- Whether there were any aggravating features, such as whether the offence was committed in the home of the victim or in the presence of a child or person under 18 years of age.
- Your personal circumstances
- Your criminal history