Anastasia Qvist is an outstanding lawyer. My criminal law situation (family violence order) was difficult, complex and Ana's diligence saved me as I was going through the most difficult period of my life. Ana is down to earth, commonsense and she even kept our costs to a minimum. She is a skilled litigator and knows the ins and outs of the ACT Magistrates Court. She dealt skillfully with the DPP and is an excellent negotiator. You will get a fair representation and she genuinely cares about her clients. She has my complete recommendation. The lady goes to bat for her clients.
I would strongly recommend Anastasia to anyone who is seeking legal representation. As a first-time offender who was charged with a Level 2 Drink Driving offence, she walked me through every step of the matter and was very upfront and clear on all aspects of my case. She was always accessible when I needed advice. Her approach and advice were excellent. Under her representation, I received the best possible outcome and managed to avoid a criminal conviction. She was a pleasure to deal with throughout the whole matter.
Anastasia Qvist was very professional and helpful in every step of my matter. I got a very good outcome and I can’t thank you enough for your hard work and the Armstrong Legal team in Canberra. I would highly recommend her!!!
Throughout Angela has been the consummate professional. She maintained a calm, yet strong demeanour remained informative and completely open in her communication and took complete ownership of the situation. We felt confident we finally had an advocate to steer us out of the nightmare we were in, and she did so with great respect and sincerity. I cannot speak more highly of Angela. She has literally rescued our family from what looked very much like a hopeless future.
Words can’t describe how grateful I am to Trudie Cameron being my solicitor and to Andrew Tiedt presenting my case in the court. They both have been very supportive and amazingly professional and effective. I’ve got an absolutely fantastic outcome I couldn’t even dream about.
Soon after meeting Andrew I knew he was the solicitor I wanted to handle my matter. He immediately sprang into action which brought me stability and hope during a tumultuous time in my life. Andrew was never afraid to give me straight answers to my tough questions which is a true mark of integrity. He is clearly at ease in the court environment and I believe his calm and measured demeanour went a long way to helping me secure the best result from my day in court. I would certainly recommend you approach Andrew if you need assistance.
"Andrew Tiedt was very professional and considerate to personal circumstances and gave sound advice that resulted in the best outcome possible. Highly recommended."
Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm
In the ACT, a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, or seven years for an aggravated form of the offence.
A court can impose any of the following penalties for an assault occasioning actual bodily harm charge:
- Imprisonment (Jail – Full Time)
- Intensive correction order (previously periodic detention)
- Community Service Order
- Suspended Sentence
- Good behaviour order
- Fine order
- Section 17: assault occasioning actual bodily harm proven but dismissed
The Offence of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm
The offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm is contained in section 24(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) which states:
“A person who assaults another person and by the assault occasions actual bodily harm is guilty of an offence punishable, on conviction, by imprisonment for 5 years.”
However, for an aggravated offence (Section 24(2) of the Crimes Act), the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 7 years.
Section 48A of the Crimes Act provides that the offence is an aggravated offence if it was committed against a pregnant woman; and the commission of the offence caused the loss of, or serious harm to, the pregnancy; or the death of, or serious harm to, a child born alive as a result of the pregnancy.
However, the offence is not an aggravated offence if the defendant proves, on the balance of probabilities, that the defendant did not know, and could not reasonably have known, that the woman was pregnant.
If the prosecution intends to prove that the offence is an aggravated offence, the relevant factors of aggravation must be stated in the charge.
This definition of “aggravated offence” is much different to that which applies in NSW, where committing an assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company with another person leaves the defendant exposed to the seven-year penalty. In the ACT, that would be treated as an “aggravating feature” of the five-year offence.
What Actions Might Constitute Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm?
The Police must show that the assault directly caused actual bodily harm to the other person. This means that a visible injury needs to be present to show that bodily harm occurred. For example, a bruise or a scratch would be sufficient in meeting those criteria.
There is also case law that defines the term “actual bodily harm”. This would include any injury that would interfere with another individual’s health or comfort. The case of R v Donovan  2 KB 498 at 509 states that the injury does not need to be permanent, but “must be more than merely transient or trifling.”
What the Police Must Prove
To convict you of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, the police must prove each element of the offence beyond reasonable doubt. That is:
- Assaulted a person or persons;
- That caused an injury or injuries amounting to actual bodily harm.
Will I Get A Criminal Record from An Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm Charge?
Yes. A criminal conviction is very likely, given that the offence involves an assault that resulted in an injury. The starting point for the sentencing Court is the recording of a conviction together with the imposition of other penalties. However, there is always a possibility that the Court may choose to exercise its discretion not to convict you of the offence.
Statistics from the ACT sentencing database reveal that from 1 July 2012 to 30 April 2016, less than 1 in 20 people found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm received no conviction. Almost 27 per cent of people found guilty immediately went to prison with slightly less than half of them having their sentences partially suspended. Another 22 per cent received fully suspended prison sentences. Almost 43 per cent were placed on Good Behaviour Orders.
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 by way of a Non-Conviction Order, there will be no fine, but there may be court costs (currently of $78).
What Are the Consequences Of A Conviction?
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 an assault occasioning actual bodily harm 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. Violent offences may also result in sentences that include imprisonment, even where an individual has no previous convictions.
An assault occasioning actual bodily harm is a more serious charge than a common assault charge. It can be further complicated depending on the circumstances; for example, if the offence was committed in the company of another.
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.
Possible Defences for Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm
Possible defences to an assault occasioning actual bodily harm charge include but are not limited to:
- Self-defence of another;
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
Because assault occasioning actual bodily harm carries a maximum penalty of a prison sentence of not longer than five years, the Prosecution has the ability to unilaterally elect to keep it in the Magistrates Court, where the maximum penalty that can be imposed is two years.
If the Prosecution does not make such an election, the Defence can still consent to the matter being dealt with in the Magistrates Court, rather than having to be committed to the Supreme Court where the matter would be before a judge and jury, if contested.
Your lawyer can negotiate with the Prosecution about the correct charges that should be brought, and the correct court for them to be heard in.
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.
WHY CHOOSE ARMSTRONG LEGAL?
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