Being charged with ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm’ can have a lasting impact on your life and future.
But with the help of the senior defence team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers, you can fight hard to beat the charges, leaving you free to get your life back on track.
Your Options in Court
To be found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, the prosecution must prove five things beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you acted in a way that caused another person to fear immediate and unlawful personal violence OR that you touched another person without their consent;
- That the other person did not consent to your actions
- That you acted either intentionally or recklessly
- That you did not have a lawful excuse for your actions
- That you caused some kind of physical injury that is more than merely transient or trifling – for example, bruises or scratches, OR where you caused some form of serious psychological injury.
If you feel that the prosecution will not be able to prove any one of these factors, our specialist criminal lawyers can give you the strongest possible defence against the charges by presenting evidence to disprove the prosecution case.
Our expert lawyers have years of experience winning ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm’ cases and will raise all possible defences to present your case in the most positive light, for example:
- Where you were acting in self-defence
- Where you were threatened or coerced into assaulting another person (duress)
- Where it was necessary to prevent serious injury or danger (necessity)
- Lawful Correction
- Where consent was given to the touching (consent)
- Where the touching was purely accidental – for example, where the contact occurred in a large crowd by mistake.
Remember, you can give yourself the best chance of getting a favourable outcome in your case by getting a reputable criminal defence lawyer on your side as soon as possible.
If you do not want to fight the charges, you may wish to enter a plea of guilty at the first available opportunity.
By pleading guilty at an early stage, you will show the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions. Accordingly, the magistrate may be willing to give you a lesser penalty.
You will also avoid the time and expense of a defended hearing to determine your guilt.
However, before pleading guilty, you should speak to our expert criminal lawyers, who will be able to advise whether there is any way to fight the charges by pleading ‘not guilty.’
If you’re considering pleading guilty, you may be wondering what kind of penalties you could face.
Generally, your matter will be heard in the Local Court before a magistrate, where the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment, and/or a $5,500 fine.
In some cases, the prosecution may ask for your matter to be heard in the District Court, where the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment.
However, these are maximum penalties, so they will only apply in the most serious of cases. Our expert defence team can help you to avoid these harsh penalties by persuading the magistrate to impose a lesser penalty.
In some cases, our criminal law specialists may be able to persuade the magistrate to deal with the matter by way of a ‘section 10 order,’ which is where you are found guilty but no conviction is recorded.
Ultimately, it will be up to the magistrate to decide the appropriate penalty after considering all the facts and circumstances of your case.
Our exceptional lawyers will persuasively present your case in the most positive light to increase your chances of obtaining a lenient penalty.
The penalties that the court may impose include:
If you’re facing assault charges, it’s only natural to want to equip yourself with as much relevant information as possible. We have provided some additional information below to help you understand how a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm could impact your life.
What does the prosecution need to prove?
Before you are found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, the prosecution must prove five things beyond a reasonable doubt:
1) That you acted in a way that caused another person to fear immediate and unlawful personal violence OR that you touched another person without their consent
Your actions must have caused another person to fear some form of personal violence.
This may be by way of a threat or some form of conduct resulting in a serious psychological injury, or, most commonly, it may arise by way of some unlawful and uninvited physical contact which results in physical injury.
The threat must be immediate – a verbal threat of future violence will not constitute an assault, for example, ‘I’m going to ruin your life.’
2) That the other person did not consent to your actions
If there is physical contact, then it must be shown to be non-consensual – that is, the other person must not have given you permission to touch them.
3) That you acted intentionally or recklessly
Assault will not include situations where you accidently came into contact with another person, for example in large crowds.
The prosecution must prove that you intended to cause the other person to fear immediate personal violence, or that you did so recklessly; in other words, that you knew that your actions would cause the other person to fear immediate violence.
If your actions were reckless and resulted in physical contact, the prosecution has to prove that you realised that your actions may have resulted in some form of physical contact, however slight.
4) That you did not have a lawful excuse for your actions
It must be shown that you did not have some reasonable and lawful excuse for your conduct. For example, if you tackled someone whilst playing football and it was within the rules of the game, it would not constitute an assault.
5) Caused some kind of physical injury that is more than merely transient or trifling – for example, bruises or scratches, OR where you caused some form of serious psychological injury.
If the assault was physical, it must amount to some kind of physical injury that is not short-lived or transient, for example, bruises or scratches. Things which may not amount to assault occasioning actual bodily harm include swelling or small grazes which go away quickly; minor sprains which heal quickly, or loss of vision which you recover from quickly.
In the case of psychological injury, it must be shown to be something
serious which goes beyond transient emotions, feeling and states of mind.
What kinds of penalties could I face?
If you’re facing charges for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, you may be wondering what penalties you could face.
The type of penalty that you will receive depends largely on the facts and circumstances of your case – for example, the court will take into consideration the degree of violence used, as well as the types of injuries sustained by the complainant.
The type of penalty that you will receive also depends on the court that your matter is heard in –generally, your matter will be heard in the Local Court before a magistrate, where the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment, and/or a $5,500 fine.
However, in some cases, the prosecution may ask for your matter to be heard in the District Court, where the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment.
It is important to remember that these are maximum penalties which are reserved for the most serious cases only. The magistrate will determine the appropriate penalty in your case after considering all the facts and circumstances.
Statistics show that the most common penalty for assault occasioning actual bodily harm is a s 9 good behaviour bond.
A s 9 bond means that the court will require you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time – in other words, you will not be allowed to commit any further offences.
The court may also impose additional conditions upon you – for example, you may be prohibited from entering a particular area.
Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?
A charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm has the potential to damage your reputation and affect your ability to work, however with the right legal team on your side, you can fight the charges to avoid these unfavourable outcomes.
As Sydney’s most experienced criminal defence lawyers, you can trust us to fight for you every step of the way – no matter how serious the allegations are.
Our expert defence team has a wealth of experience fighting and winning serious assault cases, and we will meticulously examine all the evidence to find problems with the prosecution case.
In many cases, the hard work and dedication of our lawyers has resulted in assault charges being dropped at an early stage – for example, by showing that the injury sustained did not amount to actual bodily harm, or by presenting evidence to show that you were not acting intentionally or recklessly.
We also pride ourselves on our ability to raise defences in court to justify or explain your actions, resulting in a verdict of ‘not guilty.’
Even if you simply wish to plead guilty, our expert lawyers can help you achieve the best possible outcome by presenting your case in the most positive manner and highlighting any factors which mitigate the seriousness of your actions.
In many instances, we have helped clients obtain ‘section 10s,’ which is where you are found guilty of the offence but no conviction is recorded on your criminal history, so that your ability to work and travel is unaffected.
Don’t waste time speaking to inexperienced lawyers. Call us today (02) 9261 8881 and book your FREE first conference with our Accredited Criminal Law Specialists to find out how we can help you win your ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm’ case.