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Assault Offences

An assault is defined as any touch that is not consented to. In the ACT, all assault offences are provided for under the Crimes Act. Under Part 2 of the Act, they are referred to as offences against the person. As all assault matters are inflicted upon and often result in injury to another person, they are treated very seriously by the courts.

The common assault offences in the ACT are outlined below.

Common assault

A common assault is an assault that occurs without any circumstances of aggravation. It may consist of a slap, push or punch, where the victim does not sustain injury. It may even consist of merely the threat of force, such as raising a fist in a way that causes a person to fear that they are going to be struck.

A common assault is punishable in the ATC by up to two years imprisonment.

Assault occasioning bodily harm

An assault occasioning actual bodily harm is an assault that result is a bodily injury to the victim, for example, a scratch or a bruise. This offence is punishable by a maximum of five years imprisonment.

Inflicting actual bodily harm

Inflicting actual bodily harm carries a penalty of up to five years imprisonment. An aggravated offence of inflicting causing actual bodily harm occurs when the victim is a pregnant woman and the assault results in the loss of her child. This offence carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

Grievous bodily harm

It is an offence, punishable by five years imprisonment, to either inflict or threaten to inflict grievous bodily harm on another person. Grievous bodily harm (GBH) is a really serious injury such as brain damage, jaw or skull fractures or severe lacerations that require surgery or nerve reconstruction.

Causing Grievous Bodily Harm can attract a penalty of up to five years imprisonment in the ACT, while intentionally causing GBH is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment (or 25 years if the victim is a pregnant woman).

Assault with intent to commit offences

An Assault With Intent To Commit Other Offences carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment. This offence occurs when a person is assaulted by someone in an attempt to steal from them  or commit another indictable offence.


The offence of wounding occurs when a person is assaulted and sustains an injury that involves the skin being broken such as a cut or a stab. It is punishable by up to five years imprisonment and may be dealt with in the Magistrates Court or heard on indictment in the higher courts.


The offence of affray occurs when a person engages in violent conduct that is likely to cause another person to fear for their safety. This offence is a summary offence, carrying a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

Resisting police

Resisting Police occurs when a person resists, hinders, obstructs or intimidates a public official exercising their duties. It is punishable by a maximum of two years imprisonment.

Assault police

Unlike other states and territories, the ACT does not have a separate offence of assault police. A person who assaults a police officer in the ACT is likely to be charged with common assault or assault occasioning bodily harm, as the care may be.

Possess object with intent to kill

A person who has Possession Of Object With Intent To Kill or do grievous bodily harm in the ACT is guilty of an offence punishable by imprisonment for up to five years. However, this is an offence that is rarely charged.

Female genital mutilation

It is a serious offence to perform female genital mutilation in the ACT. This offence can result in a sentence of up to 15 years imprisonment regardless of whether the girl or her parents consented to the procedure. It is also an offence to take a child out of the ACT to have a clitoridectomy procedure performed.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

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