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Criminal Law » Assault and Violence » Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

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Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

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. Most of the time, however, assault occasioning actual bodily harm will be 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.

Defences

There are a number of defences which may be relevant to your case, including:

  • Self-Defence
  • 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?

As with any offence, even after a finding of guilt, a court can still decide not to record a conviction. Click here and here to read cases where we were able to help our clients 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, however, 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