Common Assault

In Queensland, common assault is considered a summary offence, which means it is generally heard in the Magistrates Court. Here are some important headings to consider when facing a common assault charge in Queensland:

What is common assault?

Common assault is defined under section 245 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 as any conduct that involves the intentional or reckless application of force to another person, or the threat of such force. Common assault can include a wide range of conduct, from pushing or slapping someone to threatening to harm them.

What do the police have to prove?

To establish the offence of common assault, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intentionally or recklessly applied force to another person or threatened to do so, and that the victim did not consent to the conduct. The prosecution must also establish that the conduct was not justified in the circumstances.

Penalties for common assault

The penalties for common assault in Queensland can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. The maximum penalty for common assault is three years imprisonment, but in some cases, the court may impose a community-based sentence, such as probation or community service, instead of imprisonment. Fines and restitution to the victim may also be imposed as part of the penalty.

Defences to common assault

There are a number of defences that may be available to a defendant charged with common assault in Queensland. These include provocation, self-defence and defence of another person. It’s important to note that the availability of these defences will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of the case. If you have been charged with common assault in Queensland, it’s recommended that you seek legal advice from a qualified criminal defence lawyer who can advise you on the available defences and help you prepare a defence strategy tailored to your specific case.

In Queensland, the defence of provocation is defined under section 268 and section 269 of the Criminal Code and requires the following elements:

  1. Provocation: The defendant must have been provoked by the victim’s conduct or words. The conduct or words must have been of a nature that would cause a reasonable person to lose their self-control.
  2. Loss of self-control: The defendant must have lost their self-control as a result of the provocation. The loss of self-control must have been sudden and temporary, and the defendant must have acted in response to the provocation.
  3. No time for passion to cool: The defendant must have acted in response to the provocation before there was time for their passion to cool. This means that the defendant must have acted impulsively, without having had the opportunity to reflect on their actions.

It is important to note that the defence of provocation is not available if the defendant planned or premeditated the assault, or if the provocation was the result of the defendant’s own conduct. Additionally, the defence of provocation is not available for more serious offences, such as murder or grievous bodily harm.

In Queensland, there are laws that allow individuals to use reasonable force to defend themselves or others from harm. This is known as self-defence.

If the accused person acted in self-defence to protect themselves or another person from imminent harm or danger, they may have a defence to a charge of common assault. However, it is important to note that the use of force must be proportionate to the threat that is being faced.

If someone is charged with common assault, they may be able to argue that they acted in self-defence if they believed that they or someone else was in immediate danger of harm and that their use of force was necessary to defend themselves or others.

To successfully argue self-defence, the accused must show that:

  1. They believed that their actions were necessary to defend themselves or someone else from harm.
  2. The actions taken were proportionate to the perceived threat.
  3. The actions were a reasonable response in the circumstances as they appeared to the accused at the time.

If the court accepts the argument of self-defence, the accused may be acquitted of the common assault charge. However, if the court determines that the force used was excessive or unreasonable, the accused may still be found guilty of the offence.

For more information refer to section 271 and section 272 of the Criminal Code.

Procedural aspects of a common assault case

Common assault cases in Queensland are generally heard in the Magistrates Court. The prosecution must prove the elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant has the right to legal representation and may enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The trial may involve witness testimony, evidence, and legal arguments from both the prosecution and defence.

Sentencing considerations

In determining the appropriate sentence for common assault, the court may consider a range of factors, including the seriousness of the offence, the degree of harm caused to the victim, the defendant’s prior criminal record, and other mitigating or aggravating factors. The court may also consider victim impact statements and reports from probation or parole officers when making its decision.

In summary, common assault is a serious criminal offence that can have significant consequences for both the victim and the defendant. It is important for individuals to be aware of the elements of the offence, the potential penalties, and the defences that may be available. If charged with common assault, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a qualified legal professional who can provide specific legal advice based on the individual circumstances of the case.