Call now: 0411 586 543

Assault

Assault under Queensland law captures a range of offences, from the potentially minor common assault through to the very serious charge of ‘serious assault’.

Read the definition of assault, below, and then follow one of the links for more information on the specific offences of assault.  If you, or a family member, have been charged with assault you should contact us to discuss the situation and how Townes & Associates can help.

Need an assault lawyer?

    Definition of assault

    Section 245

    Queensland Criminal Code

    (1) A person who strikes, touches, or moves, or otherwise applies force of any kind to, the person of another, either directly or indirectly, without the other person’s consent, or with the other person’s consent if the consent is obtained by fraud, or who by any bodily act or gesture attempts or threatens to apply force of any kind to the person of another without the other person’s consent, under such circumstances that the person making the attempt or threat has actually or apparently a present ability to effect the person’s purpose, is said to assault that other person, and the act is called an  “assault”.

    (2) In this section— 

    “applies force” includes the case of applying heat, light, electrical force, gas, odour, or any other substance or thing whatever if applied in such a degree as to cause injury or personal discomfort.

    Assault offences in Queensland

    Select an offence from the tabs below for more information including the maximum penalty, common case examples and practical tips. Use the form at the bottom of this page, or the email link above, to get in touch if you have been charged with any of these offences.

    A charge laid under s.335 of the Queensland Criminal Code, common assault is the least serious offence of assault under Queensland law and it is committed when somebody ‘strikes, touches, moves or otherwise applies force of any kind against the person another, without the other person’s consent’.  The maximum penalty for common assault in Queensland is 3 years imprisonment with a criminal conviction.

    Common assault can be committed by threats alone (i.e. no physical touching) and the charge does not include an allegation that any injury was caused.

    If a person is convicted of common assault and they committed the offence while they were in a public place and adversely affected by an intoxicating substance, then the court must make a community service order in addition to whatever other penalty it imposes.

    Depending on the circumstances, the penalties for common assault in Queensland can be severe (sometimes including jail and a criminal record, even for first offenders).  

    If you would like to know more about common assault in Queensland use the tabs below to assist you.

    Common assault is often committed in the following ways:

    Getting kicked out

    A person is being ejected from a pub or club and they push or hit the staff member who is escorting them out, causing the staff member no injury.  Assuming they are a first offender this person might expect to receive a fine with a conviction and an order that they perform 40-60 hours of unpaid community service.  In the same scenario, if the person spat on the staff member (instead of pushing or hitting them) then a jail sentence, even for a first offender, is very likely (particularly if the spit landed in the complainant’s face).

    Road Rage

    A person finds themselves enraged by the conduct of another driver and, when they are next stopped at a red traffic light, the person gets out of their car and strikes the other driver with their hand (without causing any injury).  Assuming, again, that this person is a first offender the same fine with conviction is likely to be imposed though there will be no mandatory community service order in this case. 

    Please note these examples and penalties are illustrations only.  Every case is different and if you have been charged with an offence you should contact Townes & Associates for specific advice on your situation.

    A person is not guilty of common assault if they were acting in self defence, if they were provoked or if they were defending someone else when they committed the offence.  See our ‘Defences to criminal charges’ page for a more detailed explanation of these defences.

    Common assault will be heard in the Magistrates Court. 

    S.108B of the Penalties & Sentences Act 1992 creates an aggravated circumstances for common assault and requires that a mandatory community service order be made if the offence is committed while intoxicated in public.  In such a case, assuming it is correct to do so, an argument should be made that even if the factual matrix alleges intoxication in public, if the wording of the bench charge does not allege the aggravating particulars (public intoxication) then s.108B is not enlivened.

    R v King [2008] QCA 1 is often cited by prosecutor and the Bench to found a proposition that a person who commits and assault by spitting is liable to immediate jail even for a first offence.  King’s case, however, involved offending against Police Officers and this distinguishing feature should be relied upon to spare your client any actual custody.

    Be conscious of the discretion within s.187 of the Penalties & Sentences Act 1992 for a Magistrate to disqualify a client’s divers licence if their offence ‘arose out of the operation of a motor vehicle’ (for example in the ‘road rage’ circumstance described in the examples here.  The Court can impose anything up to an absolute disqualification if they are satisfied – having regard to the nature and circumstances of the offence – that it is in the interests of justice to do so.  

    A charge laid under s.339 of the Queensland Criminal Code, assault occasioning bodily harm (‘AOBH’) is the second most serious offence of assault under Queensland law and it is committed when somebody ‘strikes, touches, moves or otherwise applies force of any kind against the person another, without the other person’s consent’ and thereby causes them an injury.  The maximum penalty for assault occasioning bodily harm in Queensland is 7 years imprisonment with a criminal conviction.   If the offender is armed with a weapon (or pretending to be) or if they are in company with other people when committing the offence then the maximum penalty rises to 10 years imprisonment.

    If a person is convicted of AOBH and they committed the offence while they were in a public place and adversely affected by an intoxicating substance, then the court must make a community service order in addition to whatever other penalty it imposes.

    If a person is armed and causes a serious injury (for example a laceration requiring stitches or a fracture requiring surgery) then they might be charged with a more serious offence of wounding, or doing grievous bodily harm.

    Depending on the circumstances, the penalties for AOBH in Queensland can be severe (often including jail and a criminal record, even for first offenders).

    If you would like to know more about assault occasioning bodily harm in Queensland use the tabs below to assist you.

    Assault occasioning bodily harm is often committed in the following ways:

    Getting kicked out

    A person is being ejected from a pub or club and they push or hit the staff member who is escorting them out and they cause them an injury for example a black eye, a blood nose or scratches.  Assuming they are a first offender this person might expect to receive a large fine with a conviction and an order that they perform 80-100 hours of unpaid community service.  In the same scenario, if the person was armed, for example with a beer glass, and they injured the staff member with that (and assuming they were not charged with a more serious offence) then a jail sentence, even for a first offender, becomes a very real possibility.

    Road Rage

    A person finds themselves enraged by the conduct of another driver and, when they are next stopped at a red traffic light, the person gets out of their car and strikes the other driver with their hand and causes them an injury.  Assuming, again, that this person is a first offender and if the injury is not too serious (for example bruising as opposed to a fracture), then a large fine and/or a community service order with a criminal conviction is very likely.  If the offender is armed, for example with a tire iron, and/or if the injury is serious (for example laceration of the skin or a fracture) then, unfortunately, a jail sentence is likely.

    Please note these examples and penalties are illustrations only.  Every case is different and if you have been charged with an offence you should contact Townes & Associates for specific advice on your situation.

    A person is not guilty of assault occasioning bodily harm if they were acting in self defence, if they were provoked  or if they were defending someone else when they committed the offence.  See our ‘Defences to criminal charges’ page for a more detailed explanation of these defences.

    Assault occasioning bodily harm, without a circumstance of aggravation, will be heard in the Magistrates Court unless a defendant elects to have their matter heard by a jury in the District Court.

    A ‘circumstance of aggravation’ means an allegation that the offender was armed or in company with other people when committing the offence.  If such a circumstance is alleged the matter will be heard in the District Court.

    S.108B of the Penalties & Sentences Act 1992 creates an aggravated circumstances for AOBH and requires that a mandatory community service order be made if the offence is committed while intoxicated in public.  In such a case, assuming it is correct to do so, an argument should be made that even if the factual matrix alleges intoxication in public, if the wording of the bench charge does not allege the aggravating particulars (public intoxication) then s.108B is not enlivened.

    Be conscious of the discretion within s.187 of the Penalties & Sentences Act 1992 for a Magistrate to disqualify a client’s divers licence if their offence ‘arose out of the operation of a motor vehicle’ (for example in the ‘road rage’ circumstance described in the examples here).  The Court can impose anything up to an absolute disqualification if they are satisfied – having regard to the nature and circumstances of the offence – that it is in the interests of justice to do so. 

    An allegation that an offender deliberately armed themselves in order to commit an assault is, ordinarily, grounds for a sentence involving actual custody but where the use of the weapon is not pre-planned (for example where an item already at the offence location is ‘picked up without thought’) a lesser penalty might be appropriate: R v Abednego [2004] QCA 377

    For a client charged with doing grievous bodily harm, or wounding, consideration should be given to a submission that the more appropriate charge is AOBH such that the matter can resolve summarily (AOBH being the only of the three offences that can remain before a Magistrate).  Even is the Prosecution reject such a submission, permission is often given for the consulting medical specialist (who will have reported that the injury caused met the definition of GBH, for example) to be examined at committal.

    A charge laid under s.340 of the Queensland Criminal Code, serious assault is the most serious offence of assault under Queensland law and it is committed when somebody ‘strikes, touches, moves or otherwise applies force of any kind against the person another, without the other person’s consent’ and that person is one of a special category of people.  The maximum penalty for serious assault in Queensland is 7 years imprisonment with a criminal conviction. If the offence is committed while the person is armed (or pretending to be armed) or involves spitting on, throwing faeces or other bodily fluid at, or injuring a police officer the maximum penalty rises to 14 years imprisonment.  

    The most common special categories of person against whom an offence of assault becomes ‘serious assault’ are:

    A police officer

    A working corrective services officer

    A public officer (for example, a paramedic)

    A person over the age of 60

    A person suffering from a disability

    If a person is convicted of serious assault and they committed the offence while they were in a public place and adversely affected by an intoxicating substance, then the court must make a community service order in addition to whatever other penalty it imposes.

    Depending on the circumstances, the penalties for serious assault in Queensland can be severe (often including jail and a criminal record, even for first offenders). 

    If you would like to know more about serious assault in Queensland use the tabs below to assist you.

    Serious assault is often committed in the following ways:

    Resisting arrest

    A person is lawfully arrested by police, perhaps for an alleged assault on a bouncer who ejected them from a licensed venue, and they spit on one or more of the arresting officers while they are being restrained.  In this circumstance, if the spit lands on the officer’s face, particularly if it enters the officer’s eyes or mouth, the offender can expect to serve a period of time in jail if they are guilty (even for a first offence).

    At the footy

    An intoxicated person finds themselves being spoken to by a security provider at a sports stadium.  Being unhappy with the tone taken by the security provider the person pushes them, causing the security provider to stumble backward.  The security provider happens to be a 63 year old casual employee of the security company. Assuming the defendant in this case is a first offender and that no injury is caused, then a large fine and/or a community service order with a criminal conviction is very likely.  

    Please note these examples and penalties are illustrations only.  Every case is different and if you have been charged with an offence you should contact Townes & Associates for specific advice on your situation.

    A person is not guilty of serious assault if they were acting in self defence, if they were provoked or if they were defending someone else when they committed the offence.  See our ‘Defences to criminal charges’ page for a more detailed explanation of these defences.

    Serious assault will be heard in the Magistrates Court unless the prosecution elects to have the matter heard in the District Court.

    S.108B of the Penalties & Sentences Act 1992 creates an aggravated circumstances for serious assault and requires that a mandatory community service order be made if the offence is committed while intoxicated in public.  In such a case, assuming it is correct to do so, an argument should be made that even if the factual matrix alleges intoxication in public, if the wording of the bench charge (or indictment) does not allege the aggravating particulars (public intoxication) then s.108B is not enlivened.

    Be conscious of the discretion within s.187 of the Penalties & Sentences Act 1992 for a Court to disqualify a client’s divers licence if their offence ‘arose out of the operation of a motor vehicle’ (in the event of a ‘road rage’ incident).  The Court can impose anything up to an absolute disqualification if they are satisfied – having regard to the nature and circumstances of the offence – that it is in the interests of justice to do so. 

    R v King [2008] QCA 1, founds the proposition that a person who commits an assault by spitting is liable to immediate jail even for a first offence.  This is a difficult proposition to refute though if a client is immediately remorseful, makes a significant ex-gratia payment to the affected officer and provides that officer with an independently obtained disease test (naturally, only if it reveals no communicable diseases), they may – in rare cases – be spared prison.

    Where a client is a prisoner who is guilty of assaulting a working corrective services officer you should be conscious of s.156A of the Penalties & Sentences Act 1992 which mandates that any term of imprisonment for that offence be served cumulatively upon any existing jail sentences.  You should also consider making a submission to the prosecution to lay the lesser charge of assaulting a corrective services officer, under the provisions of the Corrective Services Act (this still attracts the s.156A impediment but only carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment).

    A charge laid under s.320 of the Queensland Criminal Code, doing grievous bodily harm is the most serious ‘assault’ offence under Queensland law and it is committed when a person ‘unlawfully does grievous bodily harm’ to another person.  The maximum penalty for doing grievous bodily harm (“GBH”) in Queensland is 14 years imprisonment.

    GBH is defined to mean:

    the loss of a distinct part or an organ of the body; or

    serious disfigurement; or

    any bodily injury of such a nature that, if left untreated, would endanger or be likely to endanger life, or cause or be likely to cause permanent injury to health.

    Depending on the circumstances, the penalties for GBH in Queensland can be severe (normally including jail and a criminal record for first offenders).

    If you would like to know more about GBH in Queensland use the tabs below to assist you.

    Grievous bodily harm is often committed in the following ways:

    Drunken melee

    Two intoxicated patrons have a disagreement inside a pub or club and they are both ejected by security.  On the street outside one patron punches the other, knocking them unconscious and causing the loss of 3 teeth and a fractured skull with associated, mild, brain damage.  Assuming they are a first offender, a defendant in a case like this might expect to serve 2-3 years inside jail before being eligible for release on parole. 

    Domestic violence

    A person finds themselves enraged by the order of the Family Court giving care of their children to their former partner. In revenge, this person attacks their former partner with a cricket bat causing a shattered forearm (which ultimately has to be amputated) and the loss of an eye. Assuming this person is a first offender they might expect to serve 4-6 years inside jail before being eligible for release on parole.

    Please note these examples and penalties are illustrations only.  Every case is different and if you have been charged with an offence you should contact Townes & Associates for specific advice on your situation.

    A person is not guilty of GBH if, and only if, the prosecution fail to prove the elements of the offence against them.  Specifically, a person charged with GBH cannot rely on the positive defences of self defence, provocation or defence of another as they might if they were charged with an assault.  

    A charge of GBH will be heard in the District Court.

    It is important to note that assault is not an element of a charge of doing grievous bodily harm which has implications for the defences which can be mounted (defences which apply to offences of ‘assault;’ do not apply to GBH meaning most defences in Chapter 26 of the Queensland Criminal Code and specifically meaning provocation and self defence).  This is a position supported by High Court authority – Kaporonovski v R (1973) 133 CLR.

    For a client charged with doing grievous bodily harm, or wounding, consideration should be given to a submission that the more appropriate charge is AOBH such that the matter can resolve summarily (AOBH being the only of the three offences that can remain before a Magistrate).  Even is the Prosecution reject such a submission, permission is often given for the consulting medical specialist (who will have reported that the injury caused met the definition of GBH, for example) to be examined at committal.

    A charge laid under s.323 of the Queensland Criminal Code, wounding is a serious offence and is committed where a person ‘unlawfully wounds’ another.  The maximum penalty for wounding in Queensland is 7 years imprisonment.

    Wounding is not a defined term within the Queensland Criminal Code but the law says that a ‘wound’ is any injury in which the ‘true skin’ is broken.  It does not matter how the skin is broken, for example whether a weapon is used or only a body part, just so long as the true skin is broken.

    If a person is convicted of wounding and they committed the offence while they were in a public place and adversely affected by an intoxicating substance, then the court must make a community service order in addition to whatever other penalty it imposes. 

    Depending on the circumstances, the penalties for wounding in Queensland can be severe (normally including jail and a criminal record, even for first offenders).

    If you would like to know more about wounding in Queensland use the tabs below to assist you.

    Wounding is often committed in the following ways:

    Bar fight

    A person has a disagreement with a fellow patron in a pub or club.  This person strikes the other person with a glass that they are holding and causes lacerations to their face, requiring stitches.  Assuming they are a youthful first offender this person should expect to spend 3-9 months inside jail before being released on a suspended sentence.  If their use of the glass was accidental (for example if they forgot they were holding it when they struck out) and if they have good personal factors (study, employment, family support) and a good lawyer, they might avoid jail altogether. 

    Knife at a fist fight

    A recent high school graduate returns to their former place of study to effect an agreement to fight some junior former classmates in the school carpark.  Fearful of losing the fight, this person brings a small pocket knife with them which they use to stab their opponent in the neck, early in the altercation. This person also stabs two other former classmates as they triy to help their wounded friend.  Assuming, again, that this person is a youthful first offender (though they are an adult) they might expect to serve 12-18 months inside jail before their sentence is suspended. 

    Please note these examples and penalties are illustrations only.  Every case is different and if you have been charged with an offence you should contact Townes & Associates for specific advice on your situation.

    A person is not guilty of wounding if, and only if, the prosecution fail to prove the elements of the offence against them.  Specifically, a person charged with wounding cannot rely on the positive defences of self defence, provocation or defence of another as they might if they were charged with an assault. 

    A charge of wounding will be heard in the District Court.

    S.108B of the Penalties & Sentences Act 1992 creates an aggravated circumstances for AOBH and requires that a mandatory community service order be made if the offence is committed while intoxicated in public.  In such a case, assuming it is correct to do so, an argument should be made that even if the factual matrix alleges intoxication in public, if the wording of the bench charge does not allege the aggravating particulars (public intoxication) then s.108B is not enlivened.

    It is important to note that assault is not an element of a charge of wounding and this has implications for the defences which can be mounted (as with GBH, defences which apply to offences of ‘assault;’ do not apply to wounding meaning most defences in Chapter 26 of the Queensland Criminal Code and specifically meaning provocation and self defence).  This is a position supported by High Court authority – Kaporonovski v R (1973) 133 CLR.

    What constitutes a ‘wound’ is not defined in the Code but R v Jervis [1993] 1 Qd R 643 imports the ‘ordinary common law definition’ which requires that the ‘true skin’ be broken.  This is important because it requires that there be an actual break in all layers of the epidermis and therefore bleeding associated with, for example, the rupture of the blood vessels in the eye does not constitute a wounding (C (a Minor) v Eisenhower [1984] 1 QB 331 which is law in Queensland via R v Jervis, above).

    For a client charged with wounding (or doing grievous bodily harm), consideration should be given to a submission that the more appropriate charge is AOBH such that the matter can resolve summarily (AOBH being the only of the three offences that can remain before a Magistrate).  Naturally, this submission will only be appropriate in a limited number of cases but it can have legs where the injuries are at the lower end of seriousness and the likely penalty won’t exceed that which a Magistrate has the power to pass.k

    Facing charges?

    If you or a loved one has been charged with assault, grievous bodily harm or wounding, you should contact Townes & Associates for a confidential, cost and obligation free discussion about the situation and how we can help.  Use the form below to get in touch, leave your best contact telephone number and we will give you call back at no cost to you.

      Close Menu