Criminal Law

Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

Assault occasioning actual bodily harm is the second most serious form of assault. It is applicable where an alleged assault has resulted in injury which usually is not permanent, for example where a person’s skin is broken. It is possible that you can be imprisoned for assault occasioning actual bodily harm and thus you should take this charge seriously. The basic elements of the offence and matters to be taken into account when considering whether or not an assault has occurred are the same as those for Common Assault. Of course, the additional element to this offence is that there needs to be some form of actual bodily harm.

The Law 

Pursuant to section 59 of the Crimes Act 1900, whosoever assaults any person, and thereby occasions actual bodily harm, has committed an offence. 
An aggravated (or more serious) form of the offence is where the person assaults another person, occasioning actual bodily harm and does so in the company of another (Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm in Company).


The maximum penalty for assault occasioning actual bodily harm is imprisonment for 5 years.

The maximum penalty for assault occasioning actual bodily harm in the company of another person or persons is imprisonment for 7 years.

If the charge is finalised in the Local Court, where most of these charges are finalised, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 2 years.


It does not take much for "actual bodily harm" to be occasioned. The law holds that to amount to bodily harm, there must be an injury that, although not being permanent, is more than "merely transient or trifling". This means that a feeling of pain is not of itself enough. Common examples of injury such as scratches and bruising are considered to amount to actual bodily harm. Somewhat surprisingly, the Courts have even found that psychological harm, to a substantial degree, can amount to actual bodily harm.

It is also not necessary for the prosecution to prove that the accused person intended to cause any harm to the victim to be found guilty of the offence. As long as it is proved that there was an intention to assault the victim or that the accused was reckless as to whether their actions would amount to an assault, if actually bodily harm is occasioned as a result of the assault, then the accused is guilty of the offence.
Just like other forms of assault where some harm is occasioned, the Court must take into account the seriousness or viciousness of the assault, along with the resulting injury, as important factors when determining what penalty to impose on an offender when sentenced.
If you have been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, our experts at Prime Lawyers - Criminal Law Division can help. Contact us to make an appointment with a criminal lawyer at your nearest Prime Lawyers office.

We have offices in the Sydney CBD, Parramatta, Chatswood, Sutherland and Wollongong.    

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