What Are The Penalties for Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm Charges?

Information on this page was reviewed by a specialist defence lawyer before being published. Click to read more.
Slap child

Assault is a common offence under the Crimes Act and there are a number of different types of assault charges, all of which come with different penalties. If you are facing assault occasioning actual bodily harm charges, there are serious consequences, including the possibility of a prison term.

What is Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm?

Assault occasioning actual bodily harm (AOABH) charges are usually brought in situations where there has been an assault that has caused harm or injury to a victim. For the purposes of an AOABH charge, harm is defined as physical or serious psychological injury and can include scratches and bruises, fractures, loss of vision and sprains. Psychological injury can be applied in cases where there is serious psychiatric harm as a result of an assault. Emotional injury isn’t included in the definition of harm unless the effects are serious and long lasting.

Although there doesn’t have to be an intention of causing harm or injury for you to be convicted of AOABH, there are a number of other factors that need to be in place for you to be found guilty. These include proving that there was an assault and that you were the person who was guilty of the assault, and that there was significant harm caused to the victim as a result of the assault.

What are the penalties for assault occasioning actual bodily harm?

The maximum sentence for a conviction of assault occasioning actual bodily harm is five years’ imprisonment if the matter is dealt with in the district court. If the case is heard in the local court, the maximum penalty is two years’ imprisonment and/or a $5,500 fine.

If you are found guilty, the degree of violence used in the assault will be taken into consideration when deciding what sentence will be given. The extent of the injuries sustained will also be a factor, as well as your previous history, and whether there were any mitigating circumstances that can be taken into account.

Are there any defences?

There are a number of possible defences to assault occasioning actual bodily harm charges, including self-defence, duress and necessity. If you are hoping to get a lenient sentence, it is a good idea to speak to your lawyer about your best defence. Your lawyer can help you prepare a strong defence, and where applicable advise you how to present your case as positively as possible.

Proving you are of good character by providing character references can help in some cases. Other things that can help you get a more lenient sentence include demonstrating remorse and showing that you understand the impact of your actions. If there were any mitigating circumstances that contributed to the offence, your lawyer can make sure the judge or magistrate is aware of them, along with any actions you have taken to reduce the likelihood of a similar situation happening again due to those circumstances.

If you are facing assault charges of any nature, it is important to take them seriously and seek legal advice. Although assault occasioning actual bodily harm isn’t the most serious assault charge, it still comes with severe penalties. If you are found guilty, you can face prison, and you will be given a lifelong criminal conviction.

Last updated on

Receive all of our articles weekly


Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with 25 years of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

Your Opinion Matters