Common assault

Common Assault- Section 61 Crimes Act 1900

Whosoever assaults any person, although not occasioning actual bodily harm. Common assault can be committed with or without physical contact and can be committed intentionally or recklessly.


Common Assault can be established where a threat produces an immediate fear or apprehension of physical violence, there may be an assault, although the alleged complainant does not know when the physical violence may be affected. 

A threat to strike a person even at such a distance as to make contact impossible may constitute an assault if it instils a fear of immediate violence in the mind of the alleged victim.


In the case where there is no physical force applied, and recklessness is relied upon by the prosecution, the crown must prove that the accused realised that the alleged complainant might fear that he/she would then and there be subjected to immediate and unlawful force, but none the less went on and took that risk.

Some examples of assault are as follows:

  • Striking at a person, even though the person striking misses the aim.
  • Drawing a weapon such as a knife or throwing a bottle or glass with intent to wound or strike.
Maximum Penalties

The maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,500.  

Your Options in Court

Pleading Not Guilty

The prosecution is required to prove essential elements beyond reasonable doubt to establish the offence:

  • That you caused another person to fear immediate and unlawful violence, or that you made physical contact with another person, and
  • That the other person did not consent, and
  • That your actions were intentional or reckless

Defences to this charge

Self-defence– where you used unlawful violence to protect yourself, your property or another person. 

Duress- Where you were threatened or coerced into using the unlawful violence.

Necessity– Where you used unlawful violence to prevent serious injury or danger

Lawful correction of minor- Where force was applied by the parent of the child and force was reasonable having regard to the age, health maturity or other characteristics.

Pleading Guilty

It is important that you speak to an experienced criminal defence lawyer who will be able to advise you of your options.

If you decide or have been advised to plead guilty to common assault after receiving legal advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer, it is crucial that your case is sufficiently prepared to maximise your chances at obtaining a lenient sentence. 

Utilitarian Value or 25% discount on punishment

The discount for the utilitarian value of the plea of guilty will be determined largely by the timing of your plea entered. That means, the earlier you enter a plea of guilty, the greater discount you receive on your punishment and also the type of sentence you receive.

The utilitarian value of a delayed plea is less and consequently the discount is reduced

Types of penalties

Types of penalties the Judge can impose on you include any one of the following:

Our expert defence team at Criminal Lawyers Sydney may be able to negotiate the police ‘facts’ to reduce the seriousness of the offence.

Our team will guide you on obtaining materials which can be handed-up to the court during your sentencing – including a letter of apology, character references and any documents from counsellors or health care professionals you have consulted.

These materials, together with persuasive verbal submissions by your lawyer in the courtroom, can help to ensure you receive the most lenient penalty that is possible in the circumstances.

If you have been charged with assault, call Criminal Lawyers Sydney anytime on (02) 91528619 to arrange a free first conference with one of our experienced assault lawyers who will review the allegations and advise you of your options and the best way forward.