In Queensland, common assault carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment, though fines and other penalties can also be imposed for the offence. Frequently, individuals are charged with common assault where a person unlawfully assaults another, but does not cause an injury amounting to Actual or Grievous Bodily Harm or does not constitute a serious assault.
A charge of common assault might result in a criminal conviction being recorded against your name, though this is not inevitable and Armstrong Legal’s specialist criminal law team stand ready to advise you on the ways that you might avoid a conviction being recorded.
The offence of common assault is contained in section 335 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 which states:
“Any person who unlawfully assaults another is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable, if no greater punishment is provided, to imprisonment for 3 years.”
It is a circumstance of aggravation, meaning something which increases the seriousness of an offence, if an individual commits common assault in a public place while adversely affected by an intoxicating substance (for example drugs or alcohol).
What Actions Might Constitute Common Assault?
Whilst the slightest touch might constitute common assault usually police normally would not charge a person with common assault unless there is a significant degree of force applied or there is evidence that threats of violence have been made. Examples of common assaults include:
- Pushing, punching, hitting or kicking another person (even without causing bodily harm).
- Spitting upon another person. 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.
- Threatening to hurt another person.
What The Police Must Prove
To convict you of common assault, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:
- you struck, touched or applied force to another, or threatened another with immediate violence (in circumstances that made the other person think you had the ability to carry out that threat);
- you did so intentionally or recklessly;
- you did so without consent;
- you did so without lawful justification or excuse.
Possible defences to a charge include, but are not limited to:
- self-defence, defence of another person, or defence of property;
- accident (meaning an absence of criminal intent);
- extraordinary emergency;
- prevention of violence, a breach of the peace, or other crime;
- domestic discipline of a child by a parent or carer.
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
Common assault is a misdemeanour and will be heard in the Magistrates Court.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.