Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (AOABH) Facing charges of 'assault occasioning actual bodily harm' can have significant consequences for your life and future. However, with the assistance of the experienced defence team at KPT Defence Lawyers, you can vigorously contest the charges, giving you the opportunity to overcome them and move forward with your life.
Actual bodily harm is something less than grievous bodily harm but more than “transient or trifling”. The most typical example of a “transient or trifling” injury is a temporary reddening of the skin after a slap. An injury of this nature is not actual bodily harm and would instead lead to a charge of common assault under s 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) which does not require any injury being inflicted.
The Offence of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm is governed by section 59 Crimes Act 1900 and can result in a maximum prison sentence of 5 years (or 7 years when committed in company with another person).
Instances of Actual Bodily Harm may involve any marking of the body which is established by old English authority as harm considered to be ‘beyond the transient or trifling’.
What this terminology means is that a physical harm observable on the body to be considered actual bodily harm must be more serious than a very minor or short lived marking – the control on actual bodily harm is time-based in this sense. A pressure mark light reddening of skin for minutes or even hours would not likely be considered actual bodily harm as this would more properly be classified as either transient or trifling (or both).
But most of the more commonly known fight marks, such as: scratches, bruises, grazes & scrapes fall within the broad category of actual bodily harm. By their nature marks that remain to tell the tale the next morning are usually neither transient or trifling and constitute a more serious offence than common assault by virtue of their result to the recipient victim.
If you are facing charges for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, you will want to know about the potential penalties you could receive.
The penalties you may face depend largely on the specific details and circumstances of your case. Factors such as the level of violence involved and the extent of injuries sustained by the victim will be taken into account.
Additionally, the court where your case is heard will influence the potential penalties. In most instances, your case will be heard in the Local Court before a magistrate, where the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,500.
However, there are situations where the prosecution may request that your case be heard in the District Court, where the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment.
It’s essential to note that these maximum penalties are reserved for the most severe cases. The magistrate will assess all relevant factors before determining the appropriate penalty for your specific circumstances.
The court may also impose additional conditions as part of the bond, such as restricting your access to specific areas (for instance, licenced establishments).
Before you can be found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, the prosecution must establish five crucial elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1) That you acted in a manner that caused another person to fear immediate and unlawful personal violence OR that you touched another person without their consent.
This means your actions must have caused the contact intentionally or recklessly.
2) That the other person did not consent to your actions.
The physical contact must be proven to be non-consensual, meaning the other person did not give permission for you to touch them.
3) That you acted intentionally or recklessly.
Assault does not include situations where contact occurs accidentally, such as in crowded spaces. The prosecution must prove that you intended to cause the other person to fear immediate violence or that you acted recklessly, knowing your actions might lead to physical contact, no matter how slight.
4) That you did not have a lawful excuse for your actions.
It must be demonstrated that you lacked a reasonable and lawful excuse for your conduct. For instance, if you tackled someone while playing football within the rules of the game, it would not constitute assault.
5) That you caused physical injury beyond merely transient or trifling harm.
If the assault caused physical injury, it must be more than minor and short-lived, such as bruises or scratches.
To be found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, the prosecution needs to establish five elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. That you touched another person without their consent.
2. That the other person did not consent to your actions.
3. That you acted either intentionally or recklessly.
4. That you did not have a lawful excuse for your actions.
5. That you caused some form 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 believe that the prosecution may struggle to prove any of these elements, our specialised criminal lawyers can provide you with a strong defence against the charges by presenting evidence to disprove the prosecution’s case.
Our experienced lawyers have successfully handled numerous ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm’ cases and will explore all possible defences to present your case in the most favorable light. Some examples of defences we may raise include:
– Self-defence: You acted in self-defence to protect yourself or others.
– Duress: You were coerced or threatened into committing the assault.
– Necessity: The act was necessary to prevent serious injury or danger.
– Consent: The other person consented to the touching.
– Accidental: The touching was purely accidental, such as occurring in a large crowd by mistake.
Remember, seeking the assistance of a reputable criminal defence lawyer as early as possible can significantly improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case.
If you decide not to contest the charges, you may consider entering a plea of guilty at the earliest opportunity.
By pleading guilty promptly, you demonstrate to the court that you accept responsibility for your actions, potentially leading to a more lenient penalty.
Moreover, you can avoid the time and expenses associated with a defended hearing to determine your guilt.
However, before entering a guilty plea, it is crucial to consult our expert criminal lawyers, who can advise you on whether there are grounds to fight the charges by pleading ‘not guilty.’
If you are contemplating a guilty plea, you might be wondering about the potential penalties.
Typically, your case 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 instances, the prosecution may seek to have your case heard in the District Court, where the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment.
Nonetheless, these are maximum penalties and are reserved for the most severe cases. Our skilled defence team can work towards avoiding such harsh penalties by persuading the magistrate to impose a lesser sentence.
In certain situations, our criminal law specialists may advocate for a ‘section 10 dismissal or conditional release order,’ where you are found guilty but no conviction is recorded.
Ultimately, the magistrate will determine the appropriate penalty based on all the facts and circumstances of your case.
Our exceptional lawyers will effectively present your case in a positive light, aiming to increase the likelihood of a lenient penalty.
Earlier this month, our criminal defence lawyer, Ellyse Kwan, represented a client in court facing charges of assault
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