Common Assault is an offence under Section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison and/or a fine of $5,500.


What is Common Assault

Common Assault is an act that causes another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence. While most assaults involve unwanted physical contact an assault does not necessarily require actual physical contact. All it requires it that the victim apprehends physical contact.


What constitutes common assault

  • Punching, hitting, slapping, pushing or kicking another person;
  • Raising a fist towards a person as though to hit that person;
  • Spitting upon another person;
  • Threatening to hurt another person;
  • Throwing an item (such as a bottle) at another person (whether or not it makes contact);
  • Physically restraining someone against their will.

Common assault can cover a range of actions and injuries, It is a less serious offence than assault occasioning actual bodily harm (AOABH) or causing grievous bodily harm (GBH), which involve harm to the victim.


What the Police must prove

The police must prove each of the following elements:

  1. that the accused applied physical force to another person; or
  2. that the accused threatened another with immediate violence; and this was done:
  3. internationally or recklessly; and
  4. without the person’s consent; and
  5. without lawful excuse.



Section 61 Crimes Act Common assault prosecuted by indictment

Whosoever assaults any person, although not occasioning actual bodily harm, shall be liable to imprisonment for two years.

The maximum penalty for common assault is 2 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,500.


Which Court Will Hear The Matter

Common assault is generally dealt with in the Local Court. However, the prosecution or defence can elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court. If the matter is dealt with in the Local Court the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and/or 20 penalty units.


Possible Defences to Common Assault

A common assault charge can be defended by arguing that:

  • The assault was committed in self-defence;
  • The assault was an accident;
  • The accused was acting under duress;
  • The accused was too young and insufficiently developed to understand the nature of their actions (if the accused was under 14).


Orr Legal  – Common Assault

We are Orr Legal suggest if you or anyone you know is found to be part of a Common Assault matter that you Contact Us today to get the very best advice.