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Assault Charges

Experienced Assault Lawyer

Have you been charged with an assault offence? With over 20 years of extensive experience in Criminal Law and dealing with courts and the police on the Gold Coast and throughout Queensland, David has the knowledge to get you the best outcome through strong representation and expert legal advice.

What constitutes assault in QLD?

Different jurisdictions define the many various types of assault differently in Australia. The overarching definition however generally includes the act of harmfully or offensively contacting another person to cause them discomfort against their will.

In Queensland it is considered assault when a person “strikes, touches, moves, or applies force of any kind to another person”, as set out in section 245 of the Criminal Code Act 1899. The definition includes the use of any substance or object that will cause injury or personal discomfort to the person.

Assault charges are serious offences and often lead to criminal convictions if found guilty by the courts of Queensland. That's why it's imperative to seek legal advice from a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. 

Possible Assault Defences

To be found guilty of any assault charge in Queensland, the prosecutor must be able to provide evidence that a person committed an offence. An experienced criminal defence lawyer will be able to advise you whether or not a relevant defence is applicable to your circumstances. There are commonly two defences used against a charge of assault; provocation and self-defence.

Provocation

Under section 268 of the Criminal Code, the defence of provocation is defined as “any wrongful act or insult of such a nature as to be likely, when done to an ordinary person…to deprive them of the power of self-control, and to induce the person to assault the person by whom the act is done”.

The accused must be able to prove a level of provocative conduct from the victim, and the response must generally be immediate and so called ‘in the heat of the moment'. If successfully demonstrated, provocation absolves the defendant of any criminal responsibility resulting from the assault.

Self Defence

With sufficient evidence a person was acting in self-defence, the defendant can be found not guilty of an assault charge. It has to be evident the accused person’s actions were committed to protect themselves or another person.

Unprovoked Assault

The Criminal Code states that an individual is lawfully allowed to use any reasonable force necessary to defend themselves against another person committing an act of unprovoked assault. The use of force must not be greater than the force used by the other person to commit the assault, and thus considered proportionate to the perceived threat.

Provoked Assault

If an individual assaults another individual or provokes an assault, the plaintiff may use what is considered reasonable force to protect themselves IF there was reasonable fear for their life or grievous bodily harm.

If a person's initial assault or provocation was done with the intent to kill or do grievous bodily harm, the court will not hear the defandant on the basis of this defence. 

 

Different types of Assault

Common Assault

This is the most common assault charge heard by the Queensland Magistrates Courts. The act of common assault can include various acts of violence or threats such as a slap, punch or even spitting on the other person. It is classified as not causing an injury amounting to Actual or Grievous Bodily Harm and does not constitute a serious assault. Common Assault carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment in Queensland.

Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm

Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm is a more serious assault charge than common assault, and occurs where the victim has sustained more serious injuries as a result. Having caused someone ‘bodily harm’ is defined in the Criminal Code to have caused someone injury that interferes with health or comfort and may include bruising or swelling. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.

Serious Assault

Serious Assault consists of a number of circumstances that aggravates a Common Assault case to ‘Serious’ and carries harsher penalties. Some examples of these circumstances are:

  • If the victim is over the age of 60.
  • If the victim relies on a guide, hearing or assistance dog, wheelchair or other remedial device.
  • If the victim is a police officer, corrective service officer or public officer (such as a nurse, transit officer or employee of the Queensland Ambulance Service).

The maximum penalty for a Serious Assault is 7 years imprisonment but can be increased to 14 years if the defendant carried, or pretended to carry, a weapon during the assault.  

Sexual Assault

An unwanted or indecent act, including touching, kissing and sexual intercourse, towards or in front of another person against their will is generally defined as Sexual Assault. The definition also covers acts of forcefully making another person perform or witness an indecent act without their consent. Sexual Assault carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment in Queensland. However, if the assault includes any oral sexual contact, the sentencing may be extended to 14 years imprisonment.

Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)

According to the Criminal Code, to cause someone grievous bodily harm the victim must suffer any of the below:

  • loss of a distinct organ of the body; or serious disfigurement; or
  • any bodily injury of such nature that, if left untreated, would endanger or be likely to endanger life
  • cause or be likely to cause permanent injury to health; whether or not medical treatment is or could have been available.

GHB is an indictable offence and is dealt with in the District Court. It carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment

 

Contact an experienced Assault Lawyer

If you or a loved one is facing an assault charge, its crucial that you seek legal advice from an experienced defence lawyer who will fight for you. 

David is well respected by his peers for his thorough understanding of the criminal law and ability to provide clear, concise legal advice in his practice areas. He is available to appear in all State and Federal courts in Australia, whether Local, Magistrates, District or Supreme and is happy to represent clients Australia wide. If you have any queries or have been accused of a criminal offence: 

Contact David Cole for expert legal representation & advice.