Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm (WA)
Updated on Dec 21, 2022 • 4 min read • 360 views • Copy Link
Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm (WA)
In Western Australia, there are a range of offences relating to assault including common assault, serious assault, assault with intent and assault occasioning bodily harm. These offences are contained in the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913. This page deals with assault occasioning bodily harm in WA.
Penalties for assault occasioning bodily harm
The offence of assault occasioning bodily harm (AOBH) is contained in section 317 of the act.
When the offence is dealt with on indictment (in a higher court) it carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, or seven years if it is committed under circumstances of aggravation or under circumstances of racial aggravation.
When the offence is finalised by a magistrate, the maximum penalty that can be imposed is two years imprisonment or a fine of $24,000, or three years imprisonment or a fine of $36,000 if the offence is aggravated.
What is bodily harm?
AOBH is an assault that causes harm to the victim that interferes with their health or comfort. The harm does not have to be long-term and does not have to require medical intervention.
AOBH is more serious than common assault, which does not require the victim to have sustained an injury. It is less serious than grievous bodily harm, which is defined as harm that is likely to endanger life or to cause permanent injury to health.
Circumstances of aggravation
An assault occurs under circumstances of aggravation if:
- The offender is in a family relationship with the victim;
- A child is present when the offence occurs;
- The offence involved a breach of an order;
- The victim is aged over 60.
Circumstances of racial aggravation
An offence occurs under circumstances of racial aggravation if:
- the offender shows hostility towards the victim based on the victim being a member of a racial group; or
- the offence is motivated by hostility towards members of a racial group.
Assault occasioning bodily harm is an either-way offence, meaning it may be dealt with in the Magistrates Court or on indictment in the Supreme Court. The maximum penalty that applies depends on which jurisdiction is finalising the matter (as detailed above).
Defences to assault occasioning bodily harm
A person charged with Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm may have a range of legal defence available to them.
A person is not guilty of any assault offence if the act was committed while defending themselves or while defending another person. A person may secure an acquittal on the basis of self-defence if they reasonable believed their actions were necessary in self-defence and their actions were proportionate to the degree of threat that they believed they were facing.
A person is not guilty of an offence if they acted under duress. A person acts under duress if they carry out an act only because of fear if they do not comply with the demands of another person. To be found not guilty on the basis of duress, a person must have been facing a threat that was serious enough that an ordinary person in similar circumstances would have yielded.
A person is not guilty of an offence if they were mentally impaired at the time they carried out the act and as a result, could not understand the nature of the act or could not understand that they ought not to do the act.
A person is not guilty of an offence if they were under 10 when they committed the act. A person may also be found to be not guilty of an offence based on immature age if they were under 14 when they committed the act and were insufficiently mature to understand the nature of the act.
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