Over 50 years of combined experience

Success in Courts Australia-Wide

6 x Convenient Locations across Sydney and NSW

Common assault is the least serious form of assault. Threats of violence alone can sometimes amount to an assault. Despite these assaults not actually requiring any physical contact with the victim, courts can find them to be very serious.

However, if it is your first offence, you may very often be able to avoid conviction and a criminal record.

What is Common Assault?

Common assault is an act where a person intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend the immediate use of unlawful violence. This means that the offence can still occur even if you haven’t touched another person. As long as there is an alleged act that causes someone else to fear your use of immediate and unlawful violence, you can be charged with common assault.

Such acts include if you have:

  • Initiated physical contact with another person, such as slapping, punching, kicking, spitting or pushing (this is known as battery)
  • Threw something in the direction or another person, even if it didn’t hit them.
  • Verbally threatened to cause harm to another person.
  • Indicated the use of unlawful violence, such as raising a fist.
  • Restrained someone physically against their will.

Most instances of common assault do not occasion actual bodily harm or grievous bodily harm, meaning that no serious injury was inflicted on the victim. In instances where the assault is found to be recklessly causing injury, you will be charged with a separate offence called assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Common Assault Charges in NSW

In NSW, common assault is an indictable offence that is charged under section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900. Usually offences of common assault in NSW are dealt with by a Local Court, however the prosecution can request to have the matter addressed by the District Court.

The main difference between the two Courts is that the Local Court is heard by a magistrate with lawyers and no jury. Meanwhile, the District Court is when a jury is involved with Judges and Barriers.

What is the penalty for common assault?

Within the framework of NSW criminal law, there are a range of penalties that a court can sentence you to if found guilty of common assault.

These penalties include:

  • Fine: carries a maximum penalty $2,200.00.
  • Section 10: no conviction is recorded and the Court will conditionally discharge you
  • Section 9: good behaviour bond that may include mandatory supervision by the Probation and Parole Service or other programs.
  • Section 12 – Suspended sentence: suspended prison sentence based on a good behaviour bond.
  • Prison sentence: under section 61 of the Crimes Act (NSW) 1900, you can face a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment.

If found guilty, the Court will take into account a range of factors that will influence the severity of your sentencing. This can include if it was your first offence (including your proven track record), if the offence holds multiple assault charges or if the assault initiated was proven to be occasioning bodily harm.

If you have been charged with this criminal offence, it is essential that you consult an experienced criminal lawyer to help you guarantee the most favourable outcome for your case. LY Lawyers has a criminal defence lawyer team that can help provide the best legal advice for common assault.

Call our legal team at 1300 595 299 for a free consultation with a specialist criminal lawyer and discuss what options are best for you.

Common Assault as a First Offence

If you have been found guilty of common assault and it is your first offence, it is likely that the Court won’t issue criminal charges or a prison sentence. Instead, the Magistrates’ Court may deal with the common assault with pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentence Procedure) Act. Within this scenario, you will be dismissed from the assault charge and conditionally discharged, meaning that no conviction will be recorded, nor will you receive any other penalty or criminal record.

To find out more about a section 10, click here.

First Offence Sentence with Conditional Release Order (CRO)

According to the NSW Sentencing Bench Book, pleading guilty to a first offence will favour the court to issue a Section 10 with a Conditional Release Order (CRO), which is used to deal with offenders who are unlikely to commit future offences.

A CRO is a type of good behaviour bond, requiring you to not commit any other offences for a specific period of time. The conditions of good behaviour may include you to abstain from drugs and alcohol, attend programs or follow other restrictions put in place by the Court.

The Court also has the ability to decide the length of the CRO. However, the maximum period of time that they can impose is 2 years.

Your options

Plead not guilty

If you deny that you assaulted the victim, or say you acted in self defence, our legal team will fight hard to get you acquitted.

In order to be convicted of this offence, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You applied force to another person (usually by striking or touching), or threatened another person with immediate violence;
  • The act was done either intentionally or recklessly;
  • Without the implied consent of the person whom the common assault occurred against; and
  • Without lawful excuse.

If any of the above elements cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt, then you will be found not guilty of the offence.

If the above elements can be proven beyond reasonable doubt, you will still be found not guilty if any of the following defences can be established:

  • Duress: occurs when a serious threat to you or your family which motivated your conduct constituting the criminal offence.
  • Necessity: occurs where circumstances cause you to break the law in order to avoid even more serious consequences.
  • Self-defence: occurs when your actions are motivated in trying to protect yourself, another person, your property, or the liberty of yourself or another person.

Our experienced criminal lawyers will advise you of your prospects of successfully defending any charge brought against you and fight to have you found not guilty of the offence.

To avoid aggravated assault charges, you will have to prove that the actions you took were not causing bodily harm to the victim.

Plead guilty

If you agree with what the police are alleging against you, it is recommendable to plead guilty as it demonstrates remorse and contrition, meaning that you will be entitled to a discount on your sentence.

Common Assault Case Studies and Examples

Our client was charged with the offence of common assault.

His wife had alleged that our client kicked her in the stomach during a heated argument. Our client denied these allegations, saying that the contact he made was accidental and non-intentional. Our client then pleaded not guilty and the matter proceeded to a defended hearing.

Our solicitor vigorously cross-examined the alleged victim about her version of events.

Our client also gave evidence regarding his version of events. After hearing all the evidence the court found that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that our client had intentionally kicked his wife in the stomach, as alleged by the prosecution.

Our client was found not guilty and remains criminal conviction free.

Our client was charged with the offence of common assault.

Our client was charged with common assault and using stalking or intimidation to cause fear of mental/physical harm following an alleged domestic dispute between him and his wife. The case was heard at Parramatta Local Court for a defended hearing in May this 2013.

The Brief of Evidence, particularly the statement of the wife, was inconsistent with our client’s instructions. The wife gave evidence that our client had threatened her life by saying “If you disappeared off the face of the earth tomorrow, the kids would not have to see your boyfriend again”.

She gave evidence that this was said in an aggressive manner with the Defendant centremetres from her face.

We put to her that what had actually been said was “If you died of lung cancer, the kids won’t have to see your new boyfriend again”. The wife conceded this was what had been said and that the threat was not one on her life.

The Magistrate found the client’s actual words provided a different context to the remarks and they were clearly not threats to the wife’s life.

Further, her Honour found that by omitting what was actually said the client had purposely sought to portray our client in a negative light. On account of this finding she found the wife had no credibility and that her evidence could not be relied upon.

Our client was charged with common assault, she reported the victim borrowed approximately four thousand dollars from her with an agreement the money will be repaid in 12 instalments.

The victim made a number of repayments, however failed to repay the complete amount.

On the date of the offence our client attended the panthers club and saw the victim gambling, our clients spoke to the victim to discuss the outstanding loan, during which the victim refused to repay.

Our client became frustrated watching the victim gambling and she lashed out at the victim a number of times.

In preparing this case, Adam sought to apply for an order under section 32 of the Health (Forensic Provisions) Act NSW 1990, as our client suffered from significant degree of emotional upset due to her husband committing suicide and almost killing herself and her daughter.

A psychologist report was prepared to outline the symptoms she is suffering and it stipulated during the time of the offence she had suffered from a mental condition.

The matter went before Magistrate Bailey at Liverpool Local Court who found that our client was suffering from a mental condition at the time of the offence and the matter was dismissed. This was a positive outcome for our client.

Our client was charged with common assault and destroy property. The allegation was that our client had choked the alleged victim and kicked open her door. Our client instructed us to enter a plea of guilty to the destroy property charge and not guilty to the common assault charge, which our client vigorously denied.

On the day of the Hearing at Burwood Local Court, the prosecution sought an adjournment to get their case better prepared. Our solicitor strongly opposed the adjournment application and the magistrate agreed that the adjournment should not be granted. The charge of common assault was dismissed as no evidence was offered.

In relation to the plea of guilty to the charge of destroy property, the matter proceeded to sentence and our solicitor successfully argued that our client was provoked and that the court should deal with the matter under Section 10.

The court agreed with our solicitors’ submissions and found the offence proved but dismissed without recording a conviction. Our client was very happy with the result. A conviction would have put an end to his future ambition to work in the airline industry.

Our client was charged with common assault following a domestic violence incident with her ex-husband. She pleaded guilty to pushing her ex-husband out of the way when she wanted to leave the house after an argument.

As a condition of her employment as a government contractor, our client’s opportunities for employment contracts in the future may come into jeopardy as a result of a conviction.

Our client had no criminal record and she was a person of good character within the community which was reflected in the heartfelt references of her friends and colleagues.

The matter was dealt with at Liverpool Local Court before His Honour Magistrate Degnan. Our solicitor handed up proof in the form of a Policy Directive from the NSW government as proof that our client would suffer in the future due to a conviction.

His Honour dealt with our client by way of section 10(1)(a). Our client received no conviction and no punishment.

This was an excellent result for our client.

Our client was a sophisticated young lady studying at university. She was charged with common assault after an incident at a local hotel where she slapped the ex-girlfriend of her current boyfriend.

The ex-girlfriend has a history of bulling our client on Facebook, frequently driving past her house in an intimidating manner and taunting our client through text messages.

Our team of solicitors made representations to the police to amend the facts which painted our client in a much more favourable manner. As well as handing us character evidence and evidence of the impact of a conviction in employment. This was a critical to ensuring our client was in the best possible position to receive a section 10.

Our client pleaded guilty to the amended facts and the matter was heard before His Honour Prowse at Bankstown Local Court.

His Honour immediately indicated that he was disinclined to grant a section 10 without proof of the mitigating circumstances, constituted by the harassing behaviour of the victim.

Our solicitor called our client to give evidence, which provided proof that the behaviour of the victim constituted a degree of provocation which lead His Honour to exercise his discretion in granting our client the leniency of a section 10.

Our client was extremely relieved at the conclusion of the case and remains a young lady of good character.

This was an excellent result.

Our client was a 33 year old retail sales manager charged with common assault. He was desperate to keep his record clean so called LY Lawyers to help him do that.

Our lawyer negotiated with police in relation to the facts of the case. Our lawyer appeared before Local Court Magistrate Keady at Blacktown Local Court and made submissions that the assault was committed in the context of a highly charged emotional confrontation, that our client had no prior record and that he was seeking counselling at his local church to help him deal with his marriage breakdown.

Despite the prosecutor opposing the Section 10 bond, His Honour Keady was convinced by our lawyer’s submissions and imposed the Section 10 bond for a period of 12 months.

The client was extremely happy with the result and broke down in tears of relief afterwards.

Our client was charged with common assault. It was alleged our client “king hit” the victim to back of the head during meelee at a football game causing the victim to collapse to the floor.

Our client was represented by a legal aid at Windsor local court and received a 6 month term of imprisonment to be served by way of intensive corrections order.

Our firm was instructed for the severity appeal listed at Penrith District Court.

Our solicitor persuaded Judge English that the local sentence was too severe and the client should be dealt with by way of a Section 10 given our clients remorse and contribution, good character and excellent prospects of rehabilitation.

The client was very impressive when called upon to give oral evidence at court.

Our solicitor relied on recent case law which held that more weight should be given to rehabilitation rather than deterrence when sentencing our client who was 19 years old when the offence was committed.

Judge English agreed and placed our client on a Section 10 bond for 12 months

Our client was charged with common assault and destroying property. It was alleged our client had heavily thrown the victim who was a shop keeper to the floor twice and destroyed a number of items in the shop.

Our client instructed our firm that he was suffering from severe depression and had acted out of character after an argument with the shop keeper.

The matter proceeded before Magistrate Prowse at Liverpool for sentence.

Our solicitor tendered evidence of our clients mental health and evidence that he was being treated for his depression. Further evidence of our clients good character was tendered and it was submitted the court could deal with this matter pursuant to section 10.

The court agreed and imposed a bond pursuant to section 10 for a period of 18 months

Our client was charged with five counts of common assault over a period of eight months against his wife in the presence of his children.

He was found guilty at a hearing of the assaults. Our solicitor made submissions regarding the nature of the assaults which were minor in nature and intertwined with a nasty separation and the impact a conviction would have on our client’s job and therefore on the Children in the relationship who he was providing for.

At Burwood local Court, Magistrate Quinn proceeded to sentence our client without recording a conviction against his name to five section 10 bonds pursuant to the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 NSW for a period of twelve months to be of good behaviour. This result would have been difficult to obtain if our client had not fought the charges where the true nature of the relationship and the assaults was heard in open court.

Our client was charged with common assault. Legal Aid appeared for her at the beginning of the matter and a plea of guilty was entered to common assault however she did not accept the Facts which stated she hit, threatened and spat at the victim.

Through negotiations and setting the matter down for a disputed facts hearing, the Police finally agreed to our changes to the facts which showed that our client only spat in the direction of the victim when the victim provoked her and threatened her by having six persons come to our client’s home and wait outside.

The matter was heard at Penrith Local Court where we were successful in obtaining a section 10(1)(b) Bond and an interim AVO of six months whereat if nothing happened the AVO would be dismissed, instead of a final AVO being ordered.

We appeared at Downing Centre Local Court for our client who was drunk at a nightclub and got into an altercation with the security staff. Our client was charged with common assault because he pushed the security guard and threw punched at the manager and the security guard.

Our solicitors managed to get our client a section 10 bond for 18 months with no conviction recorded.