Common assault is the most common type of assault charge in Australia. For anyone facing common assault charges, here’s how the crime is defined, what penalties may apply, and how an accused person might defend the allegations against them.
Common assault is the “least” serious assault charge. It occurs when a person knowingly or recklessly causes someone harm, or makes another person fear for their physical safety.
Common assault does not require the use of physical force. So, although, for example, assault by beating could be common assault, violence is not always required.
Even if you don’t touch another person, you could still face common assault charges if you threaten someone with violence, or you make them reasonably believe you have the ability to carry out a threat against them.
Since common assault has a fairly wide definition, many actions could be considered assault. Here are some examples of what constitutes common assault in NSW.
It’s not common assault if the accused simply fails to act e.g. fails to intervene in a fight. There must be a deliberate or reckless act which makes the alleged victim fear for their safety in some way.
We hope you now have a better understanding of what common assault is. You also, however, should be aware that it’s not the only type of assault charge available in Australia. Other assault charges include:
There are many types of assault crimes in NSW – if you’re facing criminal charges, consult an experienced lawyer immediately.
It’s the prosecution’s responsibility to prove the common assault charges against the accused. They must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt i.e. the only logical conclusion is that the accused committed a crime.
In common assault cases, the prosecution must prove that:
If the prosecution can’t prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, the charges may be dropped or the accused can be found not guilty.
Under Section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900, individuals found guilty of common assault can be imprisoned for up to two years. However, jail is not the only option – other penalties include:
The penalties a person faces depend on various factors. The judge will consider their criminal record and the severity of the offence before determining an appropriate punishment. For example, threatening behaviour committed by a first-time offender may be punished less severely than physical violence committed by a repeat offender.
In NSW, the accused can plead guilty or not guilty to common assault charges.
Anyone accused of common assault should consult an experienced lawyer before entering a plea.
The accused can defend common assault charges if they can show that:
A criminal defence lawyer will consider the evidence against the accused and determine which defences could be helpful.
Yes, common assault charges can be dropped. For example, if the evidence against someone is weak, a criminal defence attorney may be able to convince the prosecution to drop the charges. Or, the prosecution may decide not to proceed with the case at all if the alleged victim refuses to cooperate and there’s no realistic chance of a conviction.
Your best chance of having common assault charges dropped is hiring an experienced defence attorney who can find major weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case.
It’s in your best interests to hire a criminal defence attorney immediately following any common assault charge. A legal professional understands how to defend assault allegations and they will help you secure a fair outcome based on the facts of your case.
At the Lyons Law Group, we’re committed to helping you face any common assault charge. Contact the Lyons Law Group to retain an experienced defence lawyer in NSW today.