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fist with blood

Charges for Assault Resulting in Actual Bodily Harm – There exist multiple offences, referred to as “crimes against the person,” for which an individual can face charges if they breach them. These offences are outlined in Part 3 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). “Crimes against the person” include assault, indecent assault, rape, and murder. 


According to the Crimes Act 1900, a person can be charged with several offences related to assault. These include recklessly causing grievous bodily harm or wounding (s 35), causing wounding or grievous bodily harm with intent (s 33), causing grievous bodily harm (s 54), assault resulting in actual bodily harm (s 59), and common assault (s 61).


Assault offences carry significant penalties, such as substantial fines, imprisonment, and the establishment of a criminal conviction. It is crucial to seek advice from a professional criminal lawyer if you are charged with any of these offences. They can provide guidance on minimizing the impact of the offense on your criminal record and help you avoid prison sentences and substantial fines under certain circumstances.

ABH Meaning

Assault occasioning actual bodily harm (AOBH) occurs when a person assaults another individual resulting in harm that exceeds a temporary or insignificant nature. While this harm can include minor injuries like scratches or bruises, it does not encompass temporary redness caused by a slap.


Comparatively, actual bodily harm is less severe than grievous bodily harm, which denotes grave injuries such as broken bones or permanent disfigurement.


In contrast to common assault, which may not cause harm to the victim or involve physical contact in certain instances, AOBH is a more serious offence.

Elements of Offence of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

Before a conviction under section 59 of the Crimes Act 1900 for assault occasioning actual bodily harm can be established, the prosecution needs to prove the following five elements beyond a reasonable doubt:


  • That you engaged in conduct that caused another person to fear immediate and unlawful personal violence or that you touched another person without their consent. Your actions must have instilled fear of personal violence, which can result from a threat, conduct causing serious psychological harm, or uninvited physical contact leading to physical injury. It’s important to note that the threat must be immediate, and a verbal threat of future violence would not constitute an assault (e.g., saying, “I’m going to ruin your life”).
  • That the other person did not give consent to your actions. If there was physical contact, it must be established that the contact was non-consensual, meaning the other person did not permit you to touch them.
  • That you acted intentionally or recklessly. Accidental contact in situations like crowded environments would not be considered assault. The prosecution must demonstrate that you intended to cause immediate fear of personal violence or acted recklessly, knowing that your actions would result in such fear. If your actions were reckless and led to physical contact, the prosecution must prove that you realized your actions might result in physical contact, even if it was minimal.
  • That you lacked a lawful excuse for your actions. It must be shown that you did not have a reasonable and lawful justification for your conduct. For instance, if you tackled someone within the rules of a football game, it would not be considered assault.
  • That you caused physical injury beyond a fleeting or insignificant nature, such as bruises or scratches, or caused serious psychological harm. In cases of physical assault, the injury must be more than temporary and can include bruises or scratches. However, minor injuries like swelling, small grazes, or quickly healing sprains would not qualify as assault occasioning actual bodily harm. In cases of psychological harm, it must be demonstrated that the harm is significant and extends beyond transient emotions or temporary mental states.

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Legal Defences

Individuals facing charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm have various legal defences available to them.


  • Self-defence

An individual is not considered guilty of an offence if they engaged in the act to protect themselves or another person. The defence of self-defence can lead to an acquittal if the person reasonably believed that their actions were necessary for self-defence and their response was proportional to the perceived threat.


  • Duress

An individual is not guilty of an offence if they were essentially compelled or coerced by another person to commit the act. The defence of duress is applicable if the accused acted solely due to a significant threat imposed on them if they did not comply with the demands of another person.


  • Accident

An individual is not guilty of assault if the act was unintentional or accidental. For a conviction of assault to occur, the person must have acted either intentionally or recklessly.


Penalties for Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

The highest possible punishment for Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm is a prison term of up to 5 years or a fine of $5,500.00.


Nevertheless, it is crucial to consider that if the case is handled in the Local Court, the maximum penalty that the court can impose is 2 years of imprisonment. This limitation arises from the jurisdictional boundaries of the Local Court, which apply to all offences addressed within its jurisdiction.


For individuals who are first-time offenders or have a limited criminal history, the anticipated criminal penalties are as follows:


Section 9(1)(b) Conditional Release Order (CRO) without conviction (previously known as a section 10 bond)


A Conditional Release Order is a bond based on good behaviour that can be imposed without recording a conviction. It includes standard conditions such as (1) maintaining good behaviour and (2) appearing before the court if summoned during the bond’s duration. The court may also impose additional conditions, such as supervision.


The maximum duration of a Conditional Release Order is 2 years, starting from the day it is issued. If the individual breaches the conditions of the bond, the court may revoke it and impose a more severe punishment.


Section 9(1)(a) Conditional Release Order (CRO) with conviction


A Conditional Release Order under section 9(1)(a) is similar to the above section 9(1)(b) bond, but it is imposed with a conviction, resulting in the offence being recorded on the offender’s criminal history.




The court has the option to impose a fine for the offence of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm. However, in doing so, a conviction must be recorded. When determining the fine amount, the court takes into account the offender’s financial circumstances and ability to pay.


Community Correction Order (CCO)


Community Corrections Order is a more serious type of bond than a Conditional Release Order. Along with the standard conditions applicable to all bonds, the court may also include community service as part of the order.


A Community Corrections Order can be in effect for a period of up to 3 years.


In cases involving more severe instances of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm or repeat offences, the court may impose harsher sentences, including:


Intensive Correction Order (ICO)


An Intensive Corrections Order is a form of imprisonment where the offender serves the sentence in the community under the supervision of Community Corrections, rather than being incarcerated. The court can impose various conditions as part of the order, such as community service, house arrest, alcohol abstinence, counselling or treatment, and even a curfew.


Full-time Imprisonment


While not commonly imposed, a sentencing court has the authority to sentence an individual to a period of full-time imprisonment for the offence of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm.


As a distinguished criminal law firm located in Sydney, we have built a strong reputation. Our accomplished team of criminal defence lawyers holds vast expertise gained from handling numerous cases in the Local and District Courts of Sydney and its surrounding regions, as well as throughout New South Wales. Our comprehensive understanding of courtroom procedures and strategies allows us to adeptly represent clients in a wide range of situations, including both sentence hearings and defended hearings.


If you have been charged with an abh or assault offence, ensure to contact an assault lawyer in Sydney from Lyons Law Group.