Choking, Suffocation and Strangulation - Assault - Charges, Penalties and Sentencing in NSW

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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...

Choking Suffocation and Strangulation


In New South Wales, choking , suffocation or strangulation of another person without their consent is an offence. This offence is more serious if the victim is rendered unconscious, insensible or incapable of resistance. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 5 to 25 years imprisonment, depending on the type of offence involved.

The Offence of Choking, Suffocation Or Strangulation

The offence of choking, suffocation and strangulation is contained in section 37 of the Crimes Act 1900. Under that provision, a person who intentionally chokes, suffocates or strangles another person without the other person’s consent is guilty of an offence punishable by up to five years imprisonment. If the victim is rendered unconscious, insensible or incapable of resistance , the maximum penalty is increased to 10 years. If the offender does the act with the intention of enabling himself or herself to commit, or assisting any other person to commit, another indictable offence, the maximum penalty is increased to imprisonment for 25 years.

What Actions Might Constitute an Offence of Choking, Suffocation Or Strangulation?

A person may be charged with this offence based on the following actions:

  • Holding a pillow, or hand over somebody’s mouth to stop them from yelling;
  • Pinning a person by the neck with a forearm;
  • Choking someone;
  • Using a choke hold on someone during a fight.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

Choking, suffocation and strangulation is an indictable offence which may be heard in the Local Court unless the defence or prosecution elects for the matter to be heard in the District Court on indictment. The summary disposal of these offences in the Local Court carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment. A choking, suffocation and strangulation offence committed in order to commit another indictable offence is a striuctly indictable offence and must be finalised in a higher court.

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