What are One Punch Laws in NSW?

One Punch Laws

The one punch law is also colloquially known as the coward punch laws. The one punch laws state, “the person assaults another person by intentionally hitting the other person with any part of the person’s body or with an object held by the person “. This is under Section 25A(1), Assault causing the death of the Crimes Act.


Why was the one punch law introduced?


The one punch laws were introduced due to numerous incidents where a single blow to a person’s head or neck resulted in death. The maximum term of imprisonment is 20 years.


In addition, an aggravated form of the offence where the person is intoxicated at the time of the offence was introduced. For example, a person guilty of Assault Causing Death when intoxicated, is liable to a maximum sentence of 25 years imprisonment.

Introduction of the One Punch Law

The one punch laws were introduced in 2014 due to alcohol-related violence. The first man to be jailed for this offence was Hugh Garth aged 25. He was sentenced in May 2017 to more than 10 years in jail for fatally punching a man while intoxicated in 2014.

The NSW legislature introduced several one punch laws being;

  • Section 25A(1) Crimes Act – Assault occasioning death (specifically from a single blow);
  • Section 25B Crimes Act – a mandatory minimum sentence of 8 years for this offence. Any non-parole period is required to be set after the offender has served not less than 8 years;
  • Section 138D Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 – New powers to police to test for intoxication.
  • Section 138F Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 – allows police to conduct breath tests for the above purpose.
  • Section 138G Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 – it is now an offence to refuse blood or urine sample for the above purpose.

Available Defences to coward punch laws

Self-defence is the available defence to this charge. This is contained under section 418 of the Crimes Act.


The section provides that a person is not criminally responsible if they believe their actions were carried out in self-defence, and the conduct is a reasonable response in the circumstances as they perceive them.


Need Help from a Sydney Criminal Lawyer?

You should speak to a criminal defence lawyer if you are charged under the one punch laws.


  • Mohammad Khan | Criminal Defence Lawyer

    Mohammad Khan is the Principal Solicitor of Lyons Law Group. After graduating with a Bachelor of Aviation from the University of New South Wales, Mohammad took a keen interest in the law. He began training in criminal law under the tutelage of Australia’s leading criminal lawyer Adam Houda and studied law at the University of Sydney.