Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

This type of assault is more serious than a ‘common assault’.  This is because there was an injury suffered by the alleged victim as a result of the assault. The ‘actual bodily harm’ can be quite minor, which includes bruising or a small cut.

Your options when going to court are:


Plead not guilty:


In order to be convicted of this offence, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you assaulted a person and:

  1. Actual bodily harm was caused, being an injury that need not be permanent, but must be more than “merely transient or trifling” recklessly; or
  2. Grievous bodily harm was caused, being “really serious” injury, recklessly; or
  3. Wounding was caused, being an injury that pierces the inner and outer layer of the skin, recklessly.

If any of the above cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt, then you will be found not guilty of the offence.

If the above elements can be proven beyond reasonable doubt, you will still be found not guilty if any of the following defences can be established:

Our experienced criminal lawyers will advise you of your prospects of successfully defending any charge brought against you and fight to have you found not guilty of the offence.


Plead guilty:


If you agree with what the police are alleging against you, the way to get the best result is often to plead guilty as it demonstrates remorse and contrition as well as meaning that you will be entitled to a discount on your sentence.

Generally, you will recieve a 25% discount on your sentence if you plead guilty at the earliest opportunity in your court proceedings.

The offence of Assault occasioning actual bodily harm carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment in the Local Court and 5 years imprisonment in the District Court.

However, assault occasioning actual bodily harm is an offence that may in some circumstances be dealt with pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentence Procedure) Act, meaning no conviction will be recorded, there is no other penalty and you will have no criminal record.

To find out more about a section 10, click here.


Generally, penalties that a court can impose for any criminal offence in NSW are:

Case Study - Domestic Violence
Our client was charged with Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm and Common Assault (a back up charge). The police alleged that he hit his wife on the cheek with an open hand. Our client did not dispute this, however argued that it was done in self defence. He argued that his actions were necessary to avoid injury to himself, as she had thrown a picture frame at him, and lunged at him violently.
We were able to successfully argue that his wife had a history of violence against him, resulting in him suffering injuries as a result. Our arguments in court that our client’s actions were proportionate to the gravity of the situation succeeded when the case was heard before the Downing Centre Local Court.

Our client was found not guilty of both charges. Our client and his wife remain happily married.

Case Study - Found Not Guilty, Following Triple 0 Call
Our client appeared at Camden Local Court in September 2013, before Magistrate Holdsworth.

Our client allegedly committed an unprovoked and violent attack on his father-in-law that hospitalized him for 5 days. Our client disputed that the attack had occurred in the manner that his father-in-law described it to the police . Our client’s wife gave a statement to the police which supported our client’s version of events but the police believed the victim.

Prior to court, we obtained by subpoena a Triple 0 call made by our client’s wife and obtained photos of her and our client’s injuries. The father-in-law was grilled by our senior criminal solicitor over two days in court. Our client gave his version of what occurred, claiming self defence against the charges.

The court had accepted that our client was a person of good character who was unlikely to lie or commit such a violent attack.

The Magistrate ultimately found the father-in-law was an unreliable witness. In accepting the client only struck the father-in-law twice the Magistrate found him to have held a genuine fear that he, his wife and unborn child were in danger.

As such the charge was dismissed on the basis our client acted in self-defence.

Case Study - S. 10 for Aspiring Doctor
Our client was charged with intimidation, assault, and damage property.

It was alleged that our client engaged in a sustained attack against his partner including at one point using a coke bottle to strike the victim to the head six times causing bruising and swelling to the victim.

Further it was alleged our client had destroyed her computer equipment and made a number of violent threats.

The matter proceeded to sentence at Parramatta Local Court and our solicitor argued that our client was provoked after being slapped to the face by his partner and that these offences were out of character.

Further it was submitted that convictions would put a end to our clients medical career as an aspiring Doctor.

The court agreed that it could find provocation, and decided not to put an end to our clients medical career.

Our client was placed on long bonds pursuant to Section 10.

Case Study - Bail granted for Kidnap – Assault – Domestic Violence
Our client was charged with the serious indictable offence of kidnap and the assault of his estranged girlfriend.

Despite facing a serious indictable charge that carries a penalty of 14 years imprisonment, 3 charges for common assault increasing the maximum penalty to 21 years imprisonment, and having no presumption in favour of bail we were determined to fight for our client.

We advised him to apply for bail in the local court due to the considerable weaknesses we found in the prosecution’s case.

We fiercely argued that the evidence of injury to the victim was absent and at best inconsistent with the allegations against our client.

We disputed critical facts in the prosecution’s case, arguing against the victim being detained against her will and that the victim was freely accompanying our client without attempting to escape.

Our team of criminal lawyers researched every possible flaw in the prosecution’s case which we successfully argued to the court.

Instead of finding himself in remand custody for an unknown period, our client has been able to remain at liberty and employed while he awaits trial – at which we will vigorously defend his innocence.

Case Study - Good behaviour bond for breaking Victim’s nose
Our clients were charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company, namely a broken nose. One of our clients was also charged with damage to property in company. The charges followed a drunken brawl which occurred inside the Illinois Hotel at Five Dock.

Both of our clients were highly intoxicated to the point that neither could recall any events which took place.

The evidence against our clients was overwhelmingly strong and included CCTV footage. Both our clients pleaded guilty.

Our solicitor encouraged our clients to seek out rehabilitation for alcohol misuse including counselling and by attending Alcoholics Anonymous leading up to their sentence hearing.

Our solicitor assisted both our clients prepare their cases including obtaining character references which helped proved the offences were highly out of character for each.

One of our client had recently suffered incredibly traumatic events within his family and had a close friend pass away days before the offence.
The sentence hearing took place at Burwood Local Court before Magistrate Longley.

Our solicitor forcefully argued the need for rehabilitation of one of our clients. She provided evidence of events that had triggered his behaviour and his need for developing better coping mechanisms.

In addition to the overarching need for rehabilitation our solicitor argued that any penalty that was not centred on rehabilitation would significantly disadvantage our clients prospects of rehabilitation. Given our client was 20 years of age and was otherwise a person of good character His honour agreed with these submissions.

In respect to the co-accused, our solicitor argued that he was acting entirely out of character and that he had demonstrated profound remorse and responsibility for his actions.

Our solicitor argued against a restitution order to replay the damage caused to the Hotel on the basis that no quote or receipt had been provided.
Our clients received a section 9 bond.

This was an excellent result given the social concerns around alcohol related violence.

Case Study - Split Lip Requiring Stitches
Our client was charged with assault occasionally actuality bodily harm. It was alleged that our client had ferociously attacked a 50 year old man in a wheelchair on the train station punching him eight times causing him to collapse and resulting in stitches to lip and head and significant bruising. Our client was also charged with common assault for spitting on the victim.

Our client denied that he had punched the victim eight times and spat on the victim. Further our client instructed our firm that he was provoked by the victim.

Our solicitor was successful in having the facts amended to reduce the eight punches down to four punches and reference to spitting was also removed. Further the facts amended to include that our client was grabbed by the victim prior to the assault. The prosecution agreed to withdraw the common assault charge.

The matter proceeded to sentence at Fairfield Local Court before Magistrate Swaine. The prosecution argued the court should consider a custodial sentence. Our solicitor argued that our client was provoked by the victim and that our client wasn’t looking for trouble. Our solicitor argued that the court could consider community service as an alternative to custody having regards to our client’s good character, remorse, good prospects of rehabilitation and strong subjective case including his partner was giving birth to their first child in two months.

Magistrate Swaine imposed a Community service order on the occasion.

This was an excellent result.

Case Study - Dismissed
Our client was charged with Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm. It was alleged that our client had struck the victim to the head resulting in a large cut to forehead. This was denied by our client.

The matter proceeded to hearing at Sutherland Local Court before Magistrate Trad. The victim gave evidence which was different to that given to police in her statement.

Under cross examination by our solicitor, it became clear that the victim was embellishing on her evidence which was not supported by the forensic evidence.

Our solicitor made a strategic decision not to call our client to give evidence in court but rather rely on the interview he gave police. This would turn out to be a good decision.

Our solicitor argued the victim was not a credible witness due to her conflicting evidence and despite our client not giving sworn evidence in court, the prosecution did not prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt.

The court agreed and the charge was dismissed against our client.

Case Study - Charges Dismissed Following Defended Hearing
Our client was charged with intimidation, assault, and damage property.

It was alleged that our client engaged in a sustained attack against his partner including at one point using a coke bottle to strike the victim to the head six times causing bruising and swelling to the victim. Further it was alleged our client had destroyed her computer equipment and made a number of violent threats.

The matter proceeded to sentence at Parramatta Local Court and our solicitor argued that our client was provoked after being slapped to the face by his partner and that these offences were out of character. Further it was submitted that convictions would put an end to our client’s medical career.

The court agreed that it could find provocation, and decided not to put an end to our client’s medical career.

Our client was placed on long bonds pursuant to Section 10.

Case Study - Victim Suffers Broken Nose
Our clients were charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company, namely a broken nose. One of our clients was also charged with damage to property in company. The charges followed a drunken brawl which occurred inside the Illinois Hotel at Five Dock.

Both of our clients were highly intoxicated to the point that neither could recall any events which took place. The evidence against our clients was overwhelmingly strong and included CCTV footage. Both our clients pleaded guilty.

Our solicitor encouraged our clients to seek out rehabilitation for alcohol misuse including counselling and by attending Alcoholics Anonymous leading up to their sentence hearing. Our solicitor assisted both our clients prepare their cases including obtaining character references which helped proved the offences were highly out of character for each. One of our client’s had recently suffered incredibly traumatic events within his family and had a close friend pass away days before the offence.

The sentence hearing took place at Burwood Local Court before Magistrate Longley. Our solicitor forcefully argued the need for rehabilitation of one of our clients. She provided evidence of events that had triggered his behaviour and his need for developing better coping mechanisms.

In addition to the overarching need for rehabilitation our solicitor argued that any penalty that was not centred on rehabilitation would significantly disadvantage our client’s prospects of rehabilitation. Given our client was 20 years of age and was otherwise a person of good character His honour agreed with these submissions.

In respect to the co-accused, our solicitor argued that he was acting entirely out of character and that he had demonstrated profound remorse and responsibility for his actions. Our solicitor argued against a restitution order to replay the damage caused to the Hotel on the basis that no quote or receipt had been provided.

Our clients received a section 9 bond. This was an excellent result given the social concerns around alcohol related violence.

Case Study - Attacked 50yr old man in wheelchair, client escapes jail
Our client was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm. It was alleged that our client had ferociously attacked a 50 year old man in a wheelchair on the train station punching him 8 times causing him to collapse and resulting in stitches to lip and head and significant bruising. Our client was also charged with common assault for spitting on the victim.

Our client denied that he had punched the victim 8 times and spitting on the victim. Further our client instructed our firm that he was provoked by the victim.

Our solicitor was successful in having the facts amended to reduce the 8 punches down to 4 punches and reference to spitting was also removed. Further the facts amended to include that our client was grabbed by the victim prior to the assault. The prosecution agreed to withdraw the common assault charge.

The matter proceeded to sentence at Fairfield Local Court before Magistrate Swaine. The prosecution argued the court should consider a custodial sentence. Our solicitor argued that our client was provoked by the victim and that our client wasn’t looking for trouble. Our solicitor argued that the court could consider community service as an alternative to custody having regards to our client’s good character, remorse, good prospects of rehabilitation and strong subjective case including his partner was giving birth to their first child in two months.

Magistrate Swaine imposed a Community service order on the occasion.

Case Study - Neighborhood dispute leaves victim with bleeding nose, client escapes conviction
Our client was a 53 year old man charged with assaulting his neighbour, punching him 3 times, causing a bleeding nose.

The dispute began over an argument between our client and his neighbour over our client’s barking dog. The neighbour approached our client’s property, at which time our client struck him a number of times, knocking him to the ground. He suffered a bleeding nose and was treated by the ambulance at the scene.

The matter appeared before Liverpool Local Court in June 2014. Adam of our office appeared for our client. He argued that there was more to the story than the facts portrayed.

We argued that there was a significant level of provocation displayed by the victim, and that our client was not a man of violent disposition, had no criminal record, and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

Magistrate Clisdell agreed that the matter could be disposed of without a conviction. He ordered our client enter a s.10 bond for 18 months.

An excellent result in the circumstances.

Case Study - Good behavior bond for vicious king hit
Our client was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He was in a Sydney night club when another patron (the victim) started pestering our client’s fiancé by attempting to take photographs of her.

Our client responded by punching the victim to the head and kicking him whilst he was unconscious. This resulted in the victim suffering facial injuries including cuts and bruising.

Our client pleaded guilty and was sentenced before His Honour Magistrate Favretto at the Downing Centre Local Court. His Honour acknowledged the provocative act of the victim and gave considerable weight to the efforts of our client to engage in counselling in order to rehabilitate himself.

His Honour was able to see exactly how hard our client had tried to rehabilitate himself by the materials handed up before the court due to the extensive preparation of the case by our solicitors.

His Honour was satisfied that due to our clients efforts and remorse he was a low risk of re-offending, despite our client having a previous offence of violence on his record.

His Honour sentenced our client to a section 9 bond (a conviction and requirement to be of good behaviour) for 18 months, without the need for supervision.

This was an excellent result for our client.

Case Study - Jail sentence overturned on appeal at Broken Hill District Court- Client walks free
Our client had been sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm. Our solicitors decided to appeal the severity of the sentence so the case was referred to the Broken Hill District court in May 2015 to be heard by Justice Norrish.

Our solicitor argued that the local sentence was too severe and pointed to the fact that our client had completed drug and alcohol counselling as well as anger management courses.

As a result our client obtained very good reports from both of these courses, showing that he had made a determined effort to amend for past mistakes.

Justice Norrish upon hearing all of the submissions from the solicitor determined that we had presented an entirely new case and agreed with our contention that the initial sentence was too severe, and proceeded to place our client on a s 12 suspended sentence for 18 months.

Our client was able to avoid imprisonment completely, the best possible outcome.

Case Study - 4 separate assault charges- domestic violence related s 10 bond.
Our client was charged with Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm Domestic Violence Related – s 59 (1), Common Assault Domestic Violence Related – s 61, Assault with Act of Indecency Domestic Violence Related – s 61L and Contravene Prohibition or Restriction in an ADVO – s 14(1). Our client plead not guilty for all four offences.

Our client and the complainant have been involved in an intimate relationship for over a year. The Victim had been granted an ADVO against our client.
The allegations were that our client had punched the complainant and pulled her hair after the ADVO was granted.

The matter appeared at the Burwood Local Court. Our lawyers argued against the Police application for an adjournment. After cross examination of the Police officer, the Magistrate agreed an adjournment was inappropriate. The matter was withdrawn and dismissed.