This offence is dealt with under section 59 of the Crimes Act 1900.

Elements of the offence

To establish this offence the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The accused applied force, hit or touched another person;
  • The accused did so intentionally or recklessly;
  • Without consent or lawful excuse; and
  • The action or actions caused bodily harm to the other person.

‘Actual bodily harm’ is any hurt or injury that is more than merely transient or trifling. It can include:

  1. a deep scratch
  2. a lasting bruise
  3. a ‘black eye’
  4. recognisable psychiatric illnesses such as severe depressive illness or anxiety disorder that is caused by an assault.


The most common defences to this charge are:

  • Self-Defence
  • Duress
  • Necessity
  • Lawful Correction


The penalties for this offence vary depending on the nature of the assault, the duration, the number of acts constituting the assault, the accused’s subjective circumstances, other acts associated with the conduct making up the assault, the vulnerability of the alleged complainant and other factors.

Depending on the seriousness of the conduct and the accused’s subjective circumstances, sentences that can be imposed for this offence include:

  • A section 10 dismissal
  • Conditional Release Order without a conviction
  • Conditional Release Order with a conviction
  • Section 10A (conviction and no further penalty)
  • Fine
  • Community Corrections Order
  • Intensive Corrections Order
  • Sentence of full-time imprisonment

This offence is a ‘Table 2’ offence under the relevant legislation, which means it is to be dealt with in the Local Court unless an election is made by the Director of Public Prosecutions for the offence to be dealt with in the District Court.

If you have been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, call Karnib & Co Lawyers at any time on 0450503696 or email us on [email protected] to arrange a free consultation. For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skype, Zoom and FaceTime anywhere around the world.