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Assault and Violent Offences

There are several different offences relating to assault in Queensland.  The type of offence you are charged with is directly related to whether the assault caused an injury, and the severity of the injury caused.  If no injury is caused, you may be charged with common assault.  However, if an injury requires medical assistance, you may be charged with a more serious offence.

It is important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible after the incident.  This will ensure you understand your rights and obligations, and your options in progressing your matter.

We can assist you with:

Common Assault

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Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm

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Grievous Bodily Harm

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Assault or Obstruct Police

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Serious Assault

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Torture

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What is Assault?

Assault is broadly defined in Queensland, with many different behaviours held to constitute assault.  These behaviours commonly include:-

  • hitting;
  • kicking;
  • pushing;
  • touching; or
  • applying force of any kind.

You may be charged with assault, even if another person is not harmed.  You may also be charged with assault if you attempt, or threaten, to do any of the above actions towards another person.

Common Assault

Common assault is the least serious of the assault charges.  You may be charged with common assault if you assault another person, but do not cause any injury to that person.

What Court will my charges be heard in?

Your charges will be heard before the Magistrates Court.

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What is the maximum punishment for common assault?

The maximum penalty for common assault is three years imprisonment.

You may also be required to complete community service if you were intoxicated at the time of the offence, or if the offence occurred in a public place.  This is considered an aggravated offence.  The requirement to complete community service will be in addition to any other penalty imposed by the Court.

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What is aggravated common assault?

You will be charged with aggravated common assault if the offence was committed:-

  • in a public place; or
  • while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If you are charged with aggravated common assault, you must complete community service as part of your sentence.  This will be in addition to any other penalty imposed by the Court.

If you have been charged with assault seek legal advice as soon as possible.

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Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm (AOBH)

You may be charged with assault occasioning bodily harm if you assault a person and cause an injury to that person.  This is a serious charge that can have serious consequences for you.  You should seek legal advice if you have been charged with assault occasioning bodily harm.

What is bodily harm?

Bodily harm is broadly defined and includes any injury a person has suffered as the result of an assault.  Bodily harm includes:-

  • bruising;
  • swelling;
  • cuts, scratches and scrapes; and
  • fractured bones.

You may therefore be charged with assault occasioning bodily harm even if the injury caused is relatively minor.

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What Court will my charges be heard in?

Your charges will be heard in the Magistrates Court if no circumstances of aggravation apply.  You are able to choose to have your charges heard in the District Court (if you would prefer).  If a circumstance of aggravation applies, the matter will be heard before the District Court.

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Circumstances of aggravation

There are several circumstances of aggravation that can apply to an offence of assault occasioning bodily harm, including:-

  • if the offence was committed while you were armed; or
  • if the offence was committed while you were in the company of another person.

You will face a more serious penalty if a circumstance of aggravation applies.  It is therefore important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible after an incident.

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What is the maximum penalty for assault occasioning bodily harm?

The maximum penalty for assault occasioning bodily harm is seven years imprisonment.  This increases to 10 years imprisonment if you are charged with an aggravated offence of assault occasioning bodily harm.

If you have been charged with assault occasioning bodily harm seek legal advice as soon as possible.

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Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)

You may be charged with grievous bodily harm if you cause a severe injury to another person.  Grievous bodily harm is one of the most serious offences in Queensland.  It is likely you will spend time in custody should you be convicted of a grievous bodily harm offence.  It is therefore important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.

What is grievous bodily harm?

Grievous bodily harm is a severe injury that includes:-

  • serious disfigurement or maiming;
  • the loss of a body part or organ; or
  • any other injury that would endanger a person’s life or cause permanent injury if left untreated.

The definition is broad, and a large number of injuries can be classified as grievous bodily harm.  For example, you may be charged with grievous bodily harm if your actions cause another to break a bone.  You may also be charged if your actions cause someone to lose their arm or leg.

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Which Court will my charges be heard before?

Your charges will be heard before the District Court.

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What is the maximum penalty for grievous bodily harm?

The maximum penalty for grievous bodily harm is 14 years imprisonment.  It is an aggravating circumstance if you intended to cause grievous bodily harm to another.  In those circumstances, the maximum penalty increases to life imprisonment.

If you have been charged with grievous bodily harm seek legal advice as soon as possible.

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Assault or Obstruct Police

It is an offence to assault or obstruct a police officer in the performance of their duties.

You may be charged with assault police if you strike, touch or apply force to a police officer during the course of their duties.  The charge of assault police applies when no injury is caused to the officer.

You may be charged with obstruct police if you hinder, resist or attempt to obstruct a police officer.  The definition of “obstruct” is broad and can include any behaviour that makes a police officer’s job more difficult.

What Court will my charges be heard before?

Your charges will be heard in the Magistrates Court.

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Circumstances of aggravation

It is an aggravating circumstance if you were under the influence of an intoxicating substance (either drugs or alcohol) at the time of the offending.

If you are charged with aggravated common assault, you must complete community service as part of your sentence.  This will be in addition to any other penalty imposed by the Court.

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What is the maximum penalty for assaulting or obstructing a police officer?

The maximum penalty for assaulting or obstructing a police officer is a fine of 40 penalty units or six months imprisonment.  The maximum penalty increases to a fine of 60 penalty units or a period of 12 months imprisonment if a circumstance of aggravation applies.

If you are charged with assaulting or obstructing a police officer, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

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Serious Assault

There are some circumstances in which an assault will be considered a “serious assault”.  You may be charged with serious assault if you assault:-

  • a person over the age of 60 years;
  • a police officer in the performance of their duties;
  • a public service officer; or
  • a person who relies on a guide animal, wheelchair or other remedial device.

This category of assault is considered more serious due to the perceived vulnerability of the victim.  The penalties are more severe.  If you are charged with serious assault, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

In what Court will my charges be heard?

Your charges will be heard either in the Magistrates Court or the District Court.

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What is the maximum penalty for serious assault?

The maximum penalty for serious assault is a period of imprisonment for seven years.

There are some circumstances that aggravate the offence, including spitting or biting a police officer, carrying or pretending to carry a weapon or causing an injury to a public officer.  In these circumstances, the maximum penalty increases to 14 years imprisonment.

If you have been charged with serious assault seek legal advice immediately.

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Torture

Torture is one of the most serious criminal charges in Queensland.  Torture is the intentional infliction of pain on another person.  You will likely face a period in custody if you are convicted of torture.

It is important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible after the incident.  This will ensure you understand your rights and obligations, and your options in progressing your matter.  We will talk you through the process, and give you all of the information you need to make an informed decision about your matter.

What is torture?

Torture is defined as intentionally inflicting severe pain or suffering on a person.  The pain or suffering does not need to be physical.  Torture can also relate to inflicting:-

  • mental pain or suffering;
  • physiological pain or suffering; or
  • emotional pain or suffering.

Torture can relate to either one, or several, acts to inflict pain or suffering.  Therefore, the infliction of pain or suffering does not need to be prolonged.

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What Court will my charges be heard before?

Your charges will be heard in the District Court.

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What is the maximum penalty for torture?

The maximum penalty for torture is 14 years imprisonment.

If you have been charged with torture and seek legal advice immediately.

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Why it’s important to get advice

There is always a range in the severity of penalty that could be imposed, even in matters where a period of mandatory imprisonment applies.  The presiding Judge or Magistrate has discretion and will impose a penalty that is appropriate in your circumstances.

We can assist by ensuring the presiding Judge or Magistrate has all of the relevant information, and is aware of your particular circumstances and mitigating factors.  This can result in you having a lesser penalty imposed.

If you would like legal advice about your matter, or for our office to represent you, please contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.

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