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There are a range of assaults under the NSW criminal law. The range is based on the nature and severity of the injury caused or whether there was any sexual or indecent element involved.
The basic offence of assault is known as "common assault". All other types of assault use this basic offence as the foundation and then build upon it, depending on the facts of the case.
A common assault can occur without touching or without injury. Put simply, a common assault occurs when a person fears, through the action of another, that they are going to be immediately subject to unlawful violence. For example, a "cocked fist" held near a person's face, or a thrown punch that misses its target, may be a common assault.
A common assault can also occur when someone is unlawfully touched by another. Unlawful touching is when the touch is without the person's consent, done in a hostile manner. For example, accidentally bumping into someone on a crowded footpath is not a common assault; walking up to someone on a crowded footpath and pushing them with both hands to the chest is a common assault. There is no requirement for any injury to have resulted from the touching.
"Assault occasioning actual bodily harm" is unlawful touching that causes actual injury to a person's body. Examples of actual injury include bruises, scratches, cuts and abrasions and non-serious broken bones.
"Grievous bodily harm" is very serious injury and often relates to permanent impairment or disfigurement.
"Wounding" occurs when both layers of the skin (dermis and epidermis) have been punctured and typically involves a knife or other sharp implement.
There are certain potential defences to matters of assault. Depending on the circumstances, there may be a defence of self-defence, or accident, for example.
Assault matters are generally complicated and range from minor to extremely serious. Maximum penalties range from 2 years imprisonment to life imprisonment.
Why do you need a Lawyer?
If you have been charged with an assault offence it is important that you obtain quality legal advice urgently. We have significant experience in all types of assault matters and are best placed to assist you. Please call Cassandra or Robert from our office for a confidential no-obligation discussion.