Criminal Lawyers SydneyAssault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

October 20, 20220

Offence of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

Assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH) is an offence that involves injuring another person.  There are many different kinds of situations where ABH might be applicable. It could be something as simple as pushing someone in anger to punching or kicking them in a fight. The extent of the injury and the circumstances are important in determining how seriously the court will consider the offence to be. However, any type of injury suffices to establish the “actual bodily harm” part of the offence. In this article, we will look at details of the offence and how you can achieve the best outcome with the help of a criminal lawyer.

What is Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm?

assault occasioning actual bodily harmAssault occasioning actual bodily harm is an offence under section 59 of the Crimes Act. You will be charged with this offence if:

  • You intentionally or recklessly commit an assault on another person (i.e. a striking, pushing or other use of force against that other person), and
  • That assault resulted in actual bodily harm to the victim.

Actual bodily harm includes any injury which interferes with the health or comfort of the victim including scratches and bruises and even quite temporary marks on the skin. It could also include serious and prolonged psychological injury, but most often if this is alleged, it will be in addition to the physical harm.

The usual forms of assault that lead to a charge of ABH include pushing, slapping, hitting, kicking, punching, hair pulling, dragging, scratching, or throwing an object at someone. Assault occasioning actual bodily harm is a more serious charge than a simple common assault charge because it involves causing actual bodily harm to the victim.

Elements of the Offence

The elements which the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt are:

  • You applied force, hit or touched another person;
  • You did so either intentionally or recklessly;
  • You did so without consent or lawful excuse; and
  • The action that you did caused bodily harm to the other person.

Possible Defences

There are a number of defences available, including:

Self-defence – If an assault is committed or about to be committed against you (or someone else) and you use reasonable force to prevent that assault upon yourself and to defend yourself. “Reasonable” is the operative word. If you use more force than is necessary, then a defence of self defence will not succeed.

Duress – If you were coerced into committing an assault, you are not guilty of ABH. This means that someone threatened you with serious harm if you didn’t commit the assault. You must have believed they would carry out the threat.

If the victim is your child, and what may otherwise amount to an assault is committed for the purpose of reasonable correction (the old word was “discipline”), the defence of lawful correction could currently be available to you. This is, however, quite a limited defence, as society today demands that children are not subjected to physical correction in most circumstances, and criminal legislation enshrines this view. All of the restrictions on what you could be permitted to do are set out in section 60AA, Crimes Act. It is very unlikely indeed that any correction of your child which results in any actual bodily harm would be found by a Court to be defensible.

Penalties for Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

Section 59 of the Crimes Act provides a maximum term of 5 years imprisonment for this offence. If the offence is aggravated by your being in the company of another person when you commit the offence, then the maximum term of imprisonment is increased to 7 years.

This does not mean that you will necessarily receive a jail sentence. Depending upon a number of factors (relating to the particular offence, and also relating to your personal circumstances), there are a variety of other sentencing options that are available to the Court to impose on offenders who have committed an assault occasioning actual bodily harm, which will avoid a jail sentence.

Is a conviction a foregone conclusion? – No, it’s not, but you will need an experienced lawyer for assault charges to convince the Court not to impose a conviction.

In Conclusion:

Assault occasioning actual bodily harm is a serious criminal offence that can come with serious penalties. Do not delay,


call Criminal Lawyers Sydney and Suburbs for an experienced assault lawyer to represent you – (02) 9533 2269

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Brigitte Simeonides & Associates, Solicitors, P.O. Box 2068, PEAKHURST. N.S.W. 2210.

Follow us:


Call Criminal Lawyers Sydney and Suburbs – Brigitte Simeonides & Associates

(c) 2022 – Brigitte Simeonides & Associates – Criminal Lawyers Sydney and Suburbs

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation