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Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Assault Offences Assault Criminal Offences in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Assault Criminal Offences in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

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Assault cases cover all forms of bodily damage, hurt, bleeding and other violent acts towards another person or group. The ACT legislation frowns on any form of Assault committed within the territory. The Crimes Act 1900 under Part 2 provides details and required penalties for all offenders.

What constitutes an Assault?

The Crimes Act of 1900 (ACT) States that an Assault is committed when;

  1. A person or group;
    1. Attacks hit, pushes, shoves, slaps, and applies other forms of a dangerous amount of force,
    2. The act was intentional/accidental (reckless),
    3. The effect was direct/indirect
    4. The act was non-consensual
    5. Caused the sufferer bodily hurt or injury
  2. A person or group threatens or attempts to carry out any of a-e above.
  3. Or carries out an action that causes fear or violence towards another person or people

Assault cases are handled in Court (Magistrate court of the ACT). Depending on the severity of the assault via;

  • Degree of bodily injury caused
  • Type of Assault
  • Impact or destruction caused
  • Aggravating circumstances; use of weapons
  • Repeat or chronic offender
  • Status of Victim; Assault against public officers, emergency workers, police, and so on

Types of Assault cases

Where an assault case is handled depends on the type of Assault offence contested. The major types of Assault cases in Australia are;

  1. Common Assault
  2. Any charge that contravenes Section 26 of the Crimes Act of ACT establishes a common assault offence where the offender;

    Threatens harm or uses illegal force against another person without their consent. However, this kind of assault does not cause serious/life-threatening injuries. Some examples are;

    • Pushing
    • Shoving

    Punishments for this type of Assault vary depending on other factors the Magistrate considers aggravating to the assault. However, the court orders imprisonment terms of 2 years.

  3. Threat to Kill
  4. A person can be guilty of serious assault if they threatened to or attempted to kill another. While common Assault cases are lenient, the ACT Crime Act considers a threat to kill as a serious criminal offence with more severe punishments.

    The Prosecutor must prove that the accused threatened the sufferer, and is capable of carrying out such threats.

    The Court issues a maximum sentencing term of 10-years jail term. However, the court may give punishments if there is an aggravating situation.

  5. Assault Causing Bodily Harm
  6. The Court will find the accused party guilty if their actions led to bodily harm of the sufferer. These offences are more “serious” than a common assault.

    The R v Donovan [1934] 2 KB 498 case further expounded on the acts that should constitute a bodily harm case; It states that such injury;

    • Need not be permanent
    • But be more than trifling and merely transient

    The prosecution must prove that their client suffered some form of bodily disfigurements like;

    • Scratches
    • Blood loss
    • Minor Fractures
    • Dislocation
    • Swelling or lesion, and so on.

    The court may also request some form of proof like; medical report, proof of inability, and so on.

    The court orders a maximum imprisonment term of 5 years for those it finds guilty of such assault. However, the penalties will be graver if there was an aggravating cause; assaulted a pregnant woman, used a weapon, Assaulted an elderly person.

  7. Assault causing Grievous Bodily harm
  8. Grievous bodily harm is where the accused party's action leads to serious bodily injury and damage to the other. In most cases, the injury is life-threatening, incapacitating or permanently disfiguring. Some examples of Assault of Grievous Bodily harm are;

    1. Injury to Cranial region
    2. Serious bleeding
    3. Rape
    4. Serious Burns
    5. Loss of skin, hair, or walking ability

    The offending party is liable to a jail term of 20 years, and 25 years in the case of an aggravating circumstance. Other information and guidance on this crime are governed in Section 9 of the Crimes Act.

    However, the court may reduce the jail term to 5 years if it is convinced that the accused committed a negligent act.

  9. Indecent Assault
  10. Some forms of assaults may cause a person to fear for their life, or feel uncomfortable (socially, psychologically and emotionally). Acts such as;

    • Stalking a person or,
    • Causing them mental trauma,
    • Keeping a person under surveillance
    • Loitering near a person
    • Interfering with another’s property
    • Illegitimately monitoring a person

    The court imposes a maximum imprisonment term of 2 years on the guilty party. However, this can be increased to 5 years if the offender possessed/used a weapon.

  11. Assault with intent to commit other indictable offences
  12. If the court finds you guilty of assault during or before committing another indictable offence, it will issue maximum sentencing of 5 years jail term.

    Some examples of these Assault cases are;

    • Knocking someone to steal their car
    • Torturing a person before stealing their possession
    • Hitting a woman before making off with her possession, and so on
  13. Assaulting a public official
  14. The ACT does not have a specific category for offences against a Police officer or public officer. Offenders in this category are charged on any of the previous categories, and depending on the severity of the acts and injury caused.

  15. Female Genital Mutilation
  16. The ACT legislation abhors any form of genital mutilation and considers it a serious offence. Offenders can face punishments as much as 15 years jail term regardless of whether the girl or her parents consented to the procedure.


A person who engages in a violent public show or actions that endangers another person is guilty of an Affray charge. It is a summary offence and carries the maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

Resisting the Police

A person who engages in a road chase offers resistance, hinders, obstructs or intimidates a public official will be punished with a 2-year jail term.

It is a serious offence to obstruct an official exercising their rights, including damaging or tampering with evidence.

Possible Defences

Certain situations or provisions can allow for leniency or “overlooking” an offence.

The court may not find you guilty if you prove that the injuries are not from your actions.

Also, a charge of stalking may come to nought if the accused was doing the job legally

A person can also argue that they threatened or attacked out of self-defence. And their attack was necessary to forestall a bigger issue.


All convictions, sentencing and finding of guilt the court orders against an offender will appear in their Police Check ACT.

Having such records on a police check can hamper chances in any application process that requires a police check or criminal history check records.


Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) -

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