We offer you a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

Please call us on 02 8539 7475 or email us for a call back.


What is an assault?

An assault is a type of criminal offence which typically involves a threat of infliction of violence on a person or the actual infliction of violence on a person.

In Australian criminal law there are several different kinds of assault, some of these include:

  • Common assault
  • Indecent assault
  • Assault of police
  • Assaults against law enforcement officers
  • Assaults at schools
  • Assault of the crew of an aircraft or vessel
  • Assaults during public disorder

Each of these forms of assault encompass different circumstances and penalties.

The offence of assault should not be confused with the offence of battery. The key distinction between assault and battery offences, is that assault requires the apprehension or fear of unlawful violence whereas battery involves the actual infliction of violence on a person.

Brander Smith McKnight’s criminal defence lawyers are experts in the area of assaults and have had extensive experience with defending an array of different kinds of assaults.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

What penalties are associated with assault offences?

The penalties which are associated with assault offences depend on the type of assault that has been committed, this may include a term of imprisonment. The seriousness of a penalty will generally impact the maximum penalty for a given type of assault.

Brander Smith McKnight’s criminal defence lawyers are equipped with the criminal law expertise to provide you with information regarding the specific penalties that may apply to various kinds of assault charges.

Aggravated forms of assault

The seriousness of an assault offence may be increased due to the presence of an aggravating factor. Aggravated forms of assault carry more serious penalties, some factors which may aggravate an assault charge include:

  • The presence of an intent to commit a further offence
  • The type of injury sustained from the assault
  • The use of a weapon
  • The use of intoxicating or poisonous substances
  • The special status of the victim (this may include children or law enforcement officials)
  • The assault took place at a school
  • The assault took place during an instance of public disorder such as riot

Assessing the seriousness of an assault offence will require the adequate consideration of these factors.

Brander Smith McKnight’s criminal defence lawyers can assist you if you have been charged with an aggravated assault offence. Our team are well equipped to assess the seriousness of any assault charge and have extensive experience in the area of assault.

Are there any defences available to assault offences?

An assault of any kind is a serious offence, for this reason it is important to understand that there are a variety of defences available to assault offences. The primary defences which may be pursued in relation to an assault charge are as follows:


Consent is a defence which may be potentially relied on where the victim to an assault has consented to being subject to the assaulting conduct. Consent may be used as an effective defence to an assault which does not result in any actual infliction of harm. On the other hand, consent is a less reliable defence where actual intentional harm has been inflicted upon the victim. For example, a surgeon may rely on consent as a defence to harm inflicted on a patient during a surgical procedure the patient consented to.


Self-defence may potentially be relied upon as a defence to an assault offence. This defence is substantiated in circumstances where the accused’s criminal actions were carried out in the defence of themselves or someone else.

Defence of lawful correction

If a person is charged with the assault of a child they may rely on the defence of lawful correction. This defence can be used where a person has applied force upon a child for the purposes of punishment.

The only people that can apply this punishment are the child’s parents or a person acting for a parent of the child. Further the defence will only be available if the application of force on the child was reasonable. What will amount to reasonable force will be determined by having regard to the child’s age, health, maturity of the child, the characteristics of the child, the nature of any misbehaviour of the child or other circumstances that are relevant. The application of physical force will automatically be considered unreasonable if the relevant force is applied to the child’s head, neck or any part of the child’s body in way that is likely to cause lasting harm.

Brander Smith McKnight’s criminal defence lawyers are experts in relation to the array of defences available to the many types of assault offences.

Why BSM Lawyers?

Brander Smith McKnight’s criminal defence lawyers are experts in assault and have extensive experience handling such criminal matters in a range of Australian Courts.

We understand that being charged with an assault can be a very stressful and confusing. This is why we handle all assault matters with efficiency, expertise and compassion. For more advice relating to assault, please call us on 02 8539 7475.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.


chevronCan I still be guilty of an assault if I did not harm anyone?

Yes, you can still be found guilty of an assault if you have not inflicted any actual harm on a person. An assault does not necessarily require an infliction of harm upon a victim, but it does require that an act has a caused a person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence.

It is still important to consider whether you have inflicted any harm during an assault. This is because the infliction of actual harm in an assault may increase the seriousness of the assault offence.

chevronCan I reduce my sentence for an assault offence?

Yes, you can reduce your sentence for an assault offence. This is because during sentencing in NSW the court will consider whether there is evidence of any mitigating factors that are present in your offence. Evidence of these mitigating factors may reduce your sentence. Mitigating factors include but are not limited to where:

  • the offender was provoked by the victim
  • the offender does not have any record of previous convictions
  • the offender was a person of good character
  • the offender is unlikely to re-offend
  • the offender has good prospects of rehabilitation

You can find the full list of mitigating factors in section 21A of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.

chevronDoes it matter where an assault is committed?

Yes, the setting of an assault can greatly impact the seriousness of an assault offence. For example, a person is liable for a larger term of imprisonment if they commit an assault offence during an event of public disorder or at a school.

Head Office

phone close