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Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

In the ACT, assault occasioning actual bodily harm (AOBH) is an offence under section 24 of the Crimes Act1900. This page deals with the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in the ACT, and the penalties and defences that apply to this offence.

What is Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm?

For an assault to amount to AOBH, the police must show that the assault directly caused actual bodily harm to the victim. This may be any injury that would interfere with the person’s health or comfort.

In the case of R v Donovan [1934] 2 KB 498, the court stated that the injury does not need to be permanent, but “must be more than merely transient or trifling”. This means that a visible injury needs to be present to show that bodily harm occurred. For example, a bruise or a scratch.

Penalties for assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

Under section 24 of the Crimes Act 1900, a person who assaults another person occasioning actual bodily harm may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to five years. If the offence is aggravated, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for seven years.

The offence is 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, an offence of AOBH is not aggravated if the defendant proves, on the balance of probabilities, that they did not know, and could not reasonably have known, that the victim was pregnant.

Will I Get A Criminal Record?

A criminal conviction for AOBH is highly likely. The starting point for a sentencing court is the recording of a conviction, and the imposition of penalties. However, there is always a possibility that the court may choose to exercise its discretion not to convict a person if there are strong reasons to support a non-conviction.

Consequences of a conviction

The consequences of a conviction can be serious. Some jobs require a person to have no criminal convictions and a conviction for an assault occasioning actual bodily harm might jeopardise a person’s 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.

Assault occasioning actual bodily harm is a more serious charge than common assault, which does not require the victim to have suffered harm. It is less serious than inflicting grievous bodily harm, which involves really serious injuries.

If you have been charged with AOBH, 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.

Possible Defences for Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

Possible defences to an assault occasioning actual bodily harm charge include:

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

Charges of AOBH in the ACT are usually finalised in the Magistrates Court, where the maximum penalty that can be imposed is two years.

As AOBH is an indictable offence, it can also be committed to the Supreme Court if the accused wishes to have the matter determined by a jury.

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

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

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...

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