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Common Assault in Queensland (Qld)

Updated on Jan 31, 2024 4 min read 332 views Copy Link

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Published in Dec 22, 2022 Updated on Jan 31, 2024 4 min read 332 views

Common Assault in Queensland (Qld)

The Queensland Criminal Code contains a number of assault offences including common assault, serious assault and assault occasioning bodily harm. This page deals with common assault in Queensland.

Legislation governing common assault in QLD

Common assault is set out in section 335 of the Criminal Code 1899. It is a misdemeanour and carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment.

What is common assault?

A common assault is the least serious assault offence in Queensland. It does not require the victim to have suffered an injury or even for physical contact to have occurred between the offender and the victim.

A person can be found guilty of common assault if they:

  1. Intentionally or recklessly touched the victim without the victim’s consent and without lawful excuse; or
  2. Intentionally or recklessly caused the victim to apprehend physical contact without consent and without lawful excuse.

The first type of assault may consist of a push, a punch, a slap, a headbutt or a blow delivered with a knew or elbow.

The second type of assault may consist of a fist raised at the victim or an object thrown in the victim’s direction, where this causes the victim to believe that physical contact was about to be made.

Intentional common assault

An intentional common assault occurs where a person assaults a person, intending to assault the person – for example, punching a person during an argument.

Reckless common assault

A reckless common assault occurs where a person commits an act that is likely to result in an assault with disregard for the consequences – for example, throwing an object in a public place where it is likely to hit someone.

Circumstance of aggravation

Under section 52B of the Criminal Code 1899, a common assault is aggravated if the offender was motivated by hatred or serious contempt for a person or group of people on the basis of their race, religion, sexuality, sex characteristics or gender identity. When this circumstance of aggravation exists, the maximum penalty for the offence increases to four years imprisonment.

Jurisdiction

A common assault is a misdemeanor and is dealt with in the summary jurisdiction. This is the Magistrates Court where the accused is an adult and the Children’s Court where the accused is under 18.

Penalty for common assault in Qld

While the maximum penalty for common assault is three years imprisonment, courts will sometimes impose non-custodial sentences for this offence. These include fines, good behaviour bonds and community-based orders.

Defences to common assault in Queensland

 A person who is charged with common assault in Queensland can rely on a number of legal defences, some of which are outlined below.

Self-defence

A person is not guilty of common assault if they committed the act in self-defence or in defence of another person. The law recognizes that people must be allowed to act defensively and will not criminalise a person for conduct that they reasonable believed was necessary in self-defence. However, this defence will only succeed where the conduct was proportionate to the threat the accused believed they were facing.

Emergency

Under section 25 of the Criminal Code 1899, a person is not guilty of an offence if they acted in response to a sudden and extraordinary emergency and an ordinary person could not have been expected to act otherwise.

Provocation

In Queensland, a person is not guilty of a common assault if they acted in response to a provocative act or insult from the victim that temporarily deprived them of their powers of self-control. The defence of provocation is set out in section 269 of the Criminal Code 1899. Queensland is the only state of Australia where provocation can be relied on as a full defence to an assault charge.

Immature age

A person cannot be found guilty of an offence if they were below the age of criminal liability when it allegedly occurred. The age of criminal liability in Queensland is ten. A person aged under 14 cannot be found guilty of an offence unless the prosecution can establish that they were mature enough to understand the nature of their actions.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

Published in

Dec 22, 2022

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Content Editor

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Content Editor

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.

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