This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Common Assault


The slightest touch might constitute common assault but usually police will not charge a person with common assault unless there is a significant degree of force applied or threats of violence. Frequently, a person is charged with common assault when an assault does not cause an injury amounting to actual bodily harm or grievous bodily harm.

The Offence of Common Assault

The offence of common assault is contained in Section 26 of the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT), which states: “A person who assaults another person is guilty of an offence punishable, on conviction, by imprisonment for 2 years.”

Will I Get A Criminal Record for Common Assault?

Yes. A criminal conviction is very likely unless the court is convinced that it should exercise its discretion not to convict you of the offence.

What Actions Might Constitute Common Assault?

Punching, hitting or kicking another person without causing bodily harm might well lead to a charge of common Assault. Spitting is treated as a 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.

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 Non-Conviction Order, there will be no fine, but there may be court costs.

What must be proven

To find a person guilty of common assault, the court must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • they struck, touched or applied force to another, or threatened another with immediate violence;
  • they did so intentionally, or recklessly;
  • they did so without the person’s consent;
  • they did so without lawful excuse.

Possible Defences for Common Assault

A person charged with common assault may rely on one of the following defences:

Which Court Will Hear the Matter?

Common assault is a summary matter and will be heard in the ACT Magistrates Court.

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

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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