What are the new King Hit Laws?

What are King Hit laws?


There has been a lot of media focus on the growing incidents of alcohol fuelled violence on the streets of Sydney that has led to many changes in the law, such as the recent 1.30 am club lock outs at Kings Cross, with last drinks being served at 3.00am. With many tragic incidents of late, including deaths caused by such violence, new tough laws have been put in place, and this week, an alleged offender can be the first person in the New South Wales legal system that may be sentenced on such new tough laws.


To better gage the concept of why such laws have been drafted, it is best we look at what the legal system has to say about defining an assault and what penalties have been previously put in place.


An assault is any act — and not a mere omission to act — by which a person intentionally — or recklessly — causes another to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence: R v Burstow; R v Ireland [1998] 1 AC 147. Thus it is the fear which is the gist of assault.


There are four elements which constitute an actual physical assault. They are:

1. A striking, touching or application of force by the accused to another person (the complainant).

2. That such conduct of the accused was without the consent of the complainant.

3. That such conduct was intentional or reckless in the sense that the accused realised that the complainant might be subject to immediate and unlawful violence, however slight as a result of what he or she was about to do, but yet took the risk that that might happen.

4. That such conduct be without lawful excuse.

[The relevant evidence should be related to the four elements set out above, together with the competing arguments]

The Crown must be able to satisfy you beyond reasonable doubt of each of the four elements which I have mentioned, before you may convict the accused of assault.

The penalties imposed for differing types of assaults are as follows:

  1. For common assault matters, which are usually heard in the local court, a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment is what can be given.
  2. For assault of occasioning actual bodily harm, which can be also heard in the District Court, a maximum of five years imprisonment can be given.
  3. For assault causing grievous bodily harm, which are usually heard in the District Court, due to its very nature, a maximum 10 year imprisonment is given, and 14 years if you commit the offence in the company of another person.

A ‘king hit’ is an instance where a single blow to the head, neck or chest causes the victim to fall to the ground unconscious. With the growing epidemic of alcohol fuelled violence, calls for harsher sentences have brought about new legislative changes by Parliament.


King hit attackers will now face a minimum of eight years and a maximum of 25 years gaol under the new laws introduced by the NSW government, aimed at curbing the trend of alcohol or drug fuelled violence. When announcing the new penalties, the then NSW premier Barry O’Farrell said he was responding to “the community’s call for action”. Further adding, “I have been horrified by the continued drug and alcohol fuelled attacks on city streets, and the increase in violence used in these attacks”.


To summarise here is a glimpse of the new rules and penalties to be put in place.


A 20 year maximum sentence if a person dies as a result of a one punch assault.


An eight year minimum and 25 year maximum sentence for drug and alcohol affected one-punch assaults.


10 pm closing time for all bottle shops state wide.

For more information on assault type offences, and case studies where we have represented others, go to: