The offence of Common Assault is contained in section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 which states:
Whosoever assaults any person, although not occasioning bodily harm, shall be liable to imprisonment for two years.

In NSW, common assault carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment. Frequently, individuals are charged where a person assaults another person but does not cause an injury amounting to bodily harm or grievous bodily harm. Actions that may constitute common assault can include:

  • Punching, hitting or kicking another person without causing bodily harm
  • Spitting on another person
  • Threatening to hurt another person

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a common assault charge.

  • Prison sentence
  • Periodic detention
  • Intensive correction order (previously periodic detention)
  • Suspended sentence
  • Community service order (CSO)
  • Good behaviour bond
  • Fine
  • Section 10: common assault proven but dismissed

The consequences of a conviction can be serious depending upon what you do for a living. Some jobs require you to have no criminal convictions and a conviction for common assault might jeopardise your job or make it difficult to obtain visas for overseas travel. Moreover, a conviction for an offence of violence can completely rule out certain career paths such as teaching and a range of government employment options. Violent offences may also result in sentences that include imprisonment even where an individual has no previous convictions.

Such offences can be complicated if there are aggravating factors. It is important to get legal advice at an early stage to ascertain precisely what the consequences of a conviction may be and whether you have a defence to the charge. Possible defences for common assault may include:

  • Self defence
  • Self-defence of another
  • Provocation
  • Accident
  • Duress

Call us on 02 9635 3777 or 03 6334 8634 for a confidential discussion, or fill in our online enquiry form and we will be in touch with you shortly.