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Common assault


Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

In NSW, common assault carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment. Frequently, individuals are charged where a person assaults another person but does not cause an injury amounting to bodily harm or grievous bodily harm.

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for an common assault charge.

You can find a brief description of each of these penalties at the bottom of this page.

The consequences of a conviction can be serious depending upon what you do for a living. Some jobs require you to have no criminal convictions and a conviction for common assault might jeopardise your job or make it difficult to obtain visas for overseas travel. Moreover a conviction for an offence of violence can completely rule out certain career paths such as teaching and a range of government employment options. Violent offences may also result in sentences that include imprisonment even where an individual has no previous convictions.

Such offences can be complicated if there are aggravating factors. It is important to get legal advice at an early stage to ascertain precisely what the consequences of a conviction may be and whether you have a defence to the charge. It is very important that you obtain legal advice before you take part in any police record of interview. Call us on 1300 168 676 for urgent advice.

The offence of Common Assault:

The offence of Common Assault is contained in section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 which states:

Whosoever assaults any person, although not occasioning bodily harm, shall be liable to imprisonment for two years.

Will I get a criminal record from a Common Assault charge?

Yes. A criminal conviction is very likely unless the Court is convinced that they should exercise their discretion not to convict you of the offence.

What actions might constitute "Common Assault"?

  • Whilst the slightest touch might constitute Common Assault usually police would not charge a person with Common Assault unless there is a significant degree of force applied or there is evidence that threats of violence have been made.
  • Punching, hitting or kicking another person without causing bodily harm might well lead to a charge of Common Assault.
  • Spitting upon another person. Spitting is treated as a fairly serious form of the offence. Firstly it is seen as a somewhat disgusting thing to do to another person, secondly there is the possibility of the transfer of some sort of infection.
  • Threatening to hurt another person.

Can I pay a greater fine to avoid being convicted?

No, it is not possible to bargain with the court that you would pay a larger fine to avoid a criminal conviction. If the court deals with you under section 10 there will be no fine, but there may be court costs (normally less than $80).

Which court will hear your matter?

This matter is a summary matter and will be heard in the Local Court.

What the police must prove:

To convict you of Common Assault, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You struck, touched or applied force to another, or threatened another with immediate violence
  • You did so intentionally or recklessly
  • Without consent
  • Without lawful excuse

Possible defences for Common Assault:

Possible defences to a Common Assault charge include but are not limited to:

What is the law part and the short description?

On the police facts sheet and the court attendance notice that you may have received you will have a reference to the law part and a short description of offence. These references help the court and the legal profession to identify the exact offence you have been charged with. The law part and short description for this offence are set out in the table below:

Law Part Short Description
64782 Common assault (DV)-T2
244 Common assault-T2

Types of penalties:

Section 10 for an common assault charge: avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.

Fines for an common assault charge: When deciding the amount of a fine for a common assault charge the magistrate or judge should consider your financial situation and your ability to pay any fine they set. Read more.

Good behaviour bond for an common assault charge: This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.

Community service order for an common assault charge. (CSO): This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.

Suspended sentence for an common assault charge: This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.

Periodic detention for an common assault charge (commonly known as weekend detention): This form of imprisonment ceased to be a sentencing option in October 2010.

Intensive correction order for an common assault charge (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.

Jail for an common assault charge: This is the most serious penalty for the charge of common assault and involves full time detention in a correctional facility. Read more.

where to next?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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