Assault Offences

Assault offences involve the use, or threat, of physical force against another person. Assault charges are treated as serious by the Court and being found guilty of an assault offence is likely to result in the recording of a criminal conviction.

Section 245 (1) of the Queensland Criminal Code defines assault as follows:

“A person who strikes, touches, or moves, or otherwise applies force of any kind to, the person of another, either directly or indirectly, without the other person’s consent, or with the other person’s consent if the consent is obtained by fraud, or who by any bodily act or gesture attempts or threatens to apply force of any kind to the person of another without the other person’s consent under such circumstances that the person making the attempt or threat has actually or apparently a present ability to effect the person’s purpose, is said to assault that other person, and the act is called an assault.”

There are several assault offences in Queensland, depending on the circumstances and severity of the alleged offending.

Common Assault

Although it remains a serious offence, Common Assault is the lowest form of assault for which you can be charged in Queensland.

Section 335 of the Criminal Code (Qld) outlines that any person who unlawfully assaults another is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment.

For the police to make out this charge in Court, they must prove the following:

  1. That the accused assaulted the complainant; and
  2. That the assault was unlawful, in that it was not authorised, justified or excused by law.

A charge of common assault is likely to be made in circumstances where the other person has sustained only minor injuries, or where there has only been a threat of assault.

It is important to note that certain circumstances, such as being affected by drugs or alcohol while in a public place, will aggravate the offence and may result in a community service order being made in addition to any other penalty.

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    Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm

    If the assault results in the complainant suffering from more serious injuries, you may be charged with Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm. ‘Bodily Harm’ is defined as being any bodily injury that interferes with health or comfort.

    This offence carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment, although this penalty can be raised to a maximum of ten years if the defendant is (or pretends to be) armed with any dangerous or offensive weapon or is in company with one or more other people.

    Serious Assault

    Under section 340 of the Criminal Code (Qld), assault in some circumstances is classified as being ‘serious’ and carries harsher penalties.

    There are several circumstances which may cause assault to be classified as being ‘serious’. Some common circumstances include:

    1. the victim is over the age of 60;
    2. the victim relies upon a guide, hearing or assistance dog, wheelchair or another remedial device; and
    3. the victim is a police office, corrective service officer or public officer.

    However, please note that there are several other circumstances which may constitute serious assault. Should you be unsure about whether assault would be considered ‘serious’ you should obtain legal advice immediately.

    The maximum penalty with respect to serious assault is 7 years imprisonment, however, this increases to 14 years where the circumstances of the offending involved:

    1. biting or spitting on a police officer or public officer;
    2. causing actual bodily harm to a police officer or public officer; or
    3. carrying, or pretending to carry a dangerous or offensive weapon.

    Serious assault is a significant offence, and you should obtain immediate legal advice if you are charged with this offence.

    Grievous Bodily Harm

    Section 320 of the Criminal Code (Qld) makes it a crime to cause another person Grievous Bodily Harm.

    Grievous Bodily Harm is defined as any injuries that result in:

    • the loss of a distinct part or an organ of the body; or
    • serious disfigurement; or
    • any bodily injury of such a nature that, if left untreated, would endanger or be likely to endanger life, or cause or be likely to cause permanent injury to health.

    To prove the offence, the prosecution is required to prove the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

    1. that you caused Grievous Bodily Harm; and
    2. that you did so unlawfully (i.e. without a lawful excuse).

    Unlawfully causing another person Grievous Bodily Harm is an extremely serious offence, carrying a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

    If you have been charged with Grievous Bodily Harm, you should immediately obtain legal advice.

    At A.L.F. Lawyers, we are extremely experienced in assault charges and can ensure that your rights are protected at every stage of the matter.


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