Common Assault

What is Common Assault?

Common Assault is an offence pursuant to section 61 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). Common Assault can be categorised into two forms:

         (a) Common Assault by force, and

        (b) Common Assault by threat of force.

Common Assault by Force

This form of Common Assault involves the application of force to the body of another person without consent. The person applying the force must have done so with the intention to use unlawful force or must have been reckless as to the use of force.

Common Assault by threat of force

Common Assault by threat of force can be broken down into four elements:

  1. An act that causes a person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence,
  2. Without the consent of the person,
  3. The accused realised that the act may cause fear to the person and make them believe they were at risk of immediate harm and unlawful harm, and
  4. There was no lawful excuse.

There is no need for the accused to intend to follow through with their threat, as long as it would reasonably make another person fear imminent and immediate physical violence.

What kind of conduct makes it Common Assault by threat of force?

In New South Wales, the use of threatening words and/ or gestures have amounted to Common Assault by threat of force.

Should the threat be imminent and immediate?

Yes, the threat of force must be immediate and imminent. Generalised threats of future conduct do not suffice. However, in certain circumstances the fear of physical harm does not have to be immediate as long as there is a‘present and con

What is the Penalty for Common Assault?

The maximum penalty for Common Assault is up to 2 years imprisonment and/or fine up to $5,500.

Common Assault falls under Table 2 of Schedule 1 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW). This means that generally the offence is dealt with summarily unless the prosecution elects otherwise. When the offence is dealt with summarily, it is heard in the Local Court before a Magistrate, however, when the prosecution elects to proceed on indictment the matter is heard in the District Court before a Judge and a Jury.

What are the Defences available to Common Assault?

Self-Defence, Duress and Necessity are some of the most common defences available in Common Assault matter.

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