Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm
Many states and territories of Australia have an offence known as assault occasioning bodily harm. This is offence is more serious than common assault because it requires the victim to have suffered harm. This page deals with assault occasioning bodily harm offences in the various jurisdictions of Australia.
What is assault occasioning bodily harm?
AOBH is an assault that causes the victim an injury. The precise nature of the injury required is defined differently in different states and territories. In many jurisdictions it is defined as an injury that interferes with the victim’s health or comfort. In New South Wales, it is defined as harm that is ‘more than transient or fleeting.’ The injury does not have to be severe or long-lasting. Types of injury that result in charges of AOBH include bruising and cuts.
How serious is AOBH?
A charge of AOBH is more serious than a common assault. Common assault does not require the victim to have suffered harm and in some cases, there is not even any physical contact between the offender and the victim.
AOBH is less serious than offences relating to causing grievous bodily harm or causing serious harm. Those offences involve really serious injuries such as broken bones, serious burn and permanent disfigurement.
Which court will deal with my AOBH charge?
AOBH is most often finalised in the Magistrates Court. However, as it is an indictable offence, it can be finalised in the Supreme Court or District Court (depending on the jurisdiction) if the accused does not consent to the matter being dealt with by a magistrate.
Assault occasioning bodily harm in Queensland
Assault occasioning bodily harm in New South Wales
Assault occasioning bodily harm in in Victoria
In Victoria, there is no specific offence known as assault occasioning bodily harm. Instead, a person may be charged with causing injury intentionally or recklessly.
Assault occasioning bodily harm in Western Australia
In Western Australia, assault occasioning bodily harm is an offence under section 317 of the Criminal Code Act Consolidation Act 1913. It has a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, or seven years if the offence is aggravated.
Assault occasioning bodily harm in the ACT
In the ACT, the offence of assault occasioning bodily harm is set out in section 24 of the Crimes Act 1900. It carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, or seven years if the offence is aggravated.
Defences to AOBH
A person charged with AOBH may rely on a legal defence. Some of the defences that apply to AOBH are summarised briefly below.
The defence of self-defence
A person is allowed to use force in self-defence or in defence of another person. The force used must be proportionate to the threat the person believed they were facing, and they must have believed their actions were necessary in self-defence.
The defence of duress
A person is not criminally responsible for actions done under duress. Duress exists when a person is essentially ‘forced’ to carry out an act by serious threats made by someone else if they do not comply.
The defence of mental impairment
A person is not guilty of an offence if they were so mentally impaired at the time that they could not understand or control their actions.
The defence of domestic discipline
A person is permitted by law to use force to discipline a child for misbehaviour. The person must be the parent or acting for the parent of the child and the force used must be reasonable in the circumstances.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please Armstrong Legal.