What is the penalty for common assault?

What is common assault? 

Common assault is a criminal offence where an assault occurs but the person does not actually suffer any physical harm or injury.

It is important to understand that an assault does not have to include physical contact in order to constitute the offence.  It could be a common assault if a person raised their hand at someone in a hostile manner without their consent or a lawful excuse, knowing or being reckless to the fact that a person thought they were in danger.

A common assault occurs where:

1.  An act is done which intentionally, or recklessly, causes another person (the complainant) to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence.

2. The act was done without the consent of the complainant.

3. The act was intentional or reckless. This means the accused person must have realised that the complainant might become scared or think that they were about the experience unlawful violence but the accused person went on with committing the act.

4. The act was committed without a lawful excuse.


How do I defend a common assault charge?


There are a number of ways to defend a common assault charge:

  • Self defence
  • Duress
  • Necessity
  • Put the prosecution to proof – that is by arguing all the elements above cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Domestic violence related common assault offences are treated very seriously by the courts.


What is the penalty for common assault?

The penalty for common assault can vary dramatically, depending on the circumstances of the offence.

Did you know that the statistics are that 54% of first offenders who are found guilty of common assault are dealt with by way of a section 10 “no conviction”?

For more information on Section 10, and to see case studies where we have acheived a Section 10 for our clients, go to:


The penalty for common assault range depending on the persons record and the circumstances which the assault occurred.

When the offence of common assault is dealt with in the local court, the maximum penalty is 12 months. When the offence is dealt with in the district court or higher courts, the maximum penalty is 24 months imprisonment.

Imprisonment is a sentence that is reserved for the most serious offences and offenders. There are a range of alternative sentencing options available including:

  • Section 10 – No conviction recorded
  • Fine
  • Section 9 – Good behaviour bond
  • Community service order
  • Section 12 – Suspended sentence
  • Intensive correction order
  • Home detention

Generally, if it is your first criminal offence, you will be eligible for a Section 10. A term of imprisonment is unlikely in these circumstances.

For more information and case studies on some of the cases we have appeared in, go to:


Our dedicated team of solicitors are determined to get you the best possible result in any assault type offence you may be facing.

We are experts in criminal matters involving violence.

Call LY Lawyers on 1300 595 299 available 24/7.