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Assault Criminal Offences in Queensland (QLD)

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Australian National Character Check (ANCC) makes every effort to provide updated and accurate information to its customers. However due to the continuously changing nature of legislations for the Commonwealth and various States and Territories, it is inevitable that some information may not be up to date. The information on the website is general information only. The contents on the website do not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, suitability, accuracy or availability with respect to the information.

Assault charges are handled sternly in the Magistrate or District court. Australia and it’s States and Territories remain adamant about equal rights to exist for all; an assault charge is an attack on that.

All the guides, punishments and stipulations about the Assault offences, handling and punishments are stipulated under Part 5 of the Criminal Code 1899.

  • The punishment for an Assault offence depends on factors like;
  • The severity of the offence; injury, incapacitation, medical treatments
  • The nature of the assault; common, sexual, et.
  • Aggravated consequences or factors
  • Police and criminal records on such charges

What is an assault per Queensland legislation?

The premise for an assault charge is almost the same everywhere in Australia. It can be perpetuated by a group or person and must carry intent. And this is what the Queensland legislation defines an assault as;

  1. When a Person strikes, touches, moves, applies a force of any kind, and so on;
    • Directly or indirectly,
    • Without their consent or obtained their consent with fraud,
  2. Threatens/attempts to do all of (1) above (in some cases with proof of actual move)
  3. When a person applies any of the following forms of ‘force’;
    • Heat energy
    • Electrical
    • Gas
    • Odour
    • Or other harmful substances that will cause injury at certain intentional degrees

What are the elements of an Assault case?

When an assault case is taken to court, the prosecution must prove to the jury that the accused committed the crime (usually with “malicious” intent). Without some of these elements, the court may have to strike out the case and acquit the individual.

For an assault case, the onus is always on the prosecution to prove the presence of "intent" and actions. And the accused must defend and try to ameliorate their charges.

Some of the elements the prosecution must prove are;

  • The defendant applied a “dangerous” force to the alleged victim;
  • The defendant attempted/threatened to force. The prosecution must prove that this would be possible then in current/future capacity
  • The act was nonconsensual, was done under duress to the victim, or consent was fraudulent and illegitimate
  • The Assault was an unlawful act under the Queensland Criminal Code

In case of multiple offenders

The Queensland law allows more than one person to be charged or sentenced for an Assault offence. Also, the court can sentence a group individually if the court finds them guilty of varying ranges of assault cases.

Where a group is convicted of an assault case, a member may be found guilty of being an accessory to the assault while another can be charged for serious assault.

Types of Assault cases in Queensland

When hearing assault cases, the jury will make a decision based on the gravity of such cases. The extent of damage or injury is proportional to the penalties. And these are some of the degrees of assault in Queensland;

Common Assault

This assault-type subsumes all minor assault matters in the Queensland court. A scuffle, threatening arguments or careless behaviour are examples of this assault. Other primary types of common assault are;

  • ✔ Pushing/Shoving
  • ✔ Violent hand gestures
  • ✔ Verbal or Oral threats
  • ✔ Physical or Cyber harassment
  • ✔ Potentially dangerous behaviour
  • ✔ Irresponsible actions towards a person
  • ✔ Spitting on a person
  • ✔ Throwing an object to injure a person

The court slams a maximum penalty of 3 years for those guilty of common assaults.

Assault causing bodily harm

An assault can get nasty if it means the alleged victim is incapacitated for a while. However, the prosecution must prove it was the assault that led to the victim needing medical attention and interfered with their routine.

The maximum sentence for these offenders is a jail term of 7 years. If there was;

  • aggravation in the assault,
  • the offender used a weapon/pretended to have one,
  • the offence was made by more than one person,
  • Then the maximum sentence increases to 10 years.
  • Serious blows
  • Causing harm through chasing, hitting, and so on
  • Hitting with a weapon
  • Violent actions

Dangerous Operation of a vehicle

Where a license carrying driver is charged with operating a vehicle dangerously, they could be facing jail terms of up to 10 years imprisonment. If there was an aggravating circumstance such as; use of drugs, alcohol, excessive speeds or escaping the scene of the incident, it could be as much as 14 years.

The charges may become greater if such dangerous action leads to more offences like manslaughter.

Unlawful wounding and grievous bodily harm

There are separate charges for when an offence penetrates the skin and results in bleeding. These offences can carry a maximum sentencing term of 7 years. The prosecution must prove (usually with medical evidence) that the assault "wounded" their client.

The prosecution must also prove that the assault intended;

  • Damage to an internal organ,
  • Would cause or has caused serious disfigurement
  • Only swift medical attention saved the victim’s life

Serious Assault

The Queensland court considers it a serious assault if it is against a public or police officer in the line of duty. Any of the following public officers during an assault are;

  • Transit officer
  • Health Service employee
  • Correctional officer
  • Child correction officer
  • Police or Paramilitary officer
  • Public post officer

This offence can take various forms depending on the event, and nature such as;

  • Biting an officer
  • Spitting on an officer
  • Scaring an officer with a weapon
  • Threatening public officers with a weapon

Furthermore, this charge covers all assaults against certain vulnerable people of the society like;

  • People who rely on guides
  • Hearing or assistant dog
  • People on wheelchair
  • People over 60 years of age

The maximum penalty for a serious assault is a 7 years imprisonment term, and 14 years term for intentional assault against a Police officer.

In Queensland (QLD), assaults involving spitting on a police officer are punished severely. The offender may take some ameliorating steps such as;

  • Submitting a written apology to the police officer
  • Providing a person’s medical history to show that they suffer from non transferable disease (where appropriate)

Sexual Assaults

All inappropriate or threatening sexual acts; in public or private places are sexual assaults. The actions that fall under this offence are;

  • Forcing someone to touch genitals
  • Rape,
  • Sexually derogatory words,
  • Touching without consent,
  • All non-consensual sexual acts,
  • Other improper sexual advancements,
  • Requesting sex for a role (predatory behaviours)/favours (workplaces, schools, and co)

Forceful sexual intercourse or penetration or Rape is the highest form of sexual assault and usually attracts grave punishments of up to 20 years.

Sexual assault cases are heard in a district court and attract a penalty of up to 14 years and may increase for aggravated cases.

Where a weapon is used to humiliate, threaten or further assault the sufferer, the court can order an extended imprisonment term.

Can I defend an Assault charge?

Yes, however you must get an experienced lawyer. Having a legal representative will help you to;

  • Plead lesser punishments or good behaviour bonds in "difficult cases"
  • Strikeout "lumped up" charges
  • Refute the prosecution claims
  • Advise you on which plea to enter.

An assault conviction shows on your police check Queensland

Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Checks are the most in-demand documents for employment, probity, licensing or accreditation purposes.

Certain convictions on a police check, like a Rape, Serious assault or dangerous driving conviction can affect a persons chances of getting related roles.


Part 5 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (QLD) -

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