Charged with assault in Queensland? Here we work through the definitions and penalties associated with offences pertaining to assault.
Assault charges can vary from being quite serious to relatively minor. One of the least understood principles around assault is that it doesn’t have to involve physical contact – causing mental harm to someone, or threatening someone with a realistic possibility of violence, satisfies the definition of assault. Some of the more serious elements of assault have increased penalties or specific definitions, like assaulting a police officer, but this blog will run through the general definitions and groups of assault charges.
All charges in the realm of assault are involved with physical or mental harm to a person. There are three broad categories that assault offences can fall into.
Common assault is a minor physical or mental injury received from threats in a minor dispute, so even if no one is badly harmed in an altercation you are still liable to be charged for common assault. The maximum penalty for common assault is 3 years imprisonment, although fines and other less severe penalties are common for this level of offence.
Causing Bodily Harm
The next and more serious level of assault offence is assault causing bodily harm. In this instance, that means a serious assault that injures a person sufficiently to interfere with their health and comfort. Conviction of this type can lead to a maximum imprisonment of 7 years, although this is increased to 10 years in the instance of aggravated assault causing bodily harm. The inclusion of the word “aggravated” means that the assault offence has either been committed with a weapon or instrument, or if more than one person is involved in the assault.
Unlawful wounding is an offence very similar to assault causing bodily harm but refers to penetration of the skin that results in bleeding. It carries the same maximum 7 year imprisonment penalty.
Grievous Bodily Harm
Grievous bodily harm is one of the most serious types of assault, and is when an assault causes serious disfigurement, the loss of a distinct part of an organ or a potentially life threatening injury if left untreated. It carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment. There is an important distinction here between “unlawfully” and “intentionally” committing grievous bodily harm. If a heated disagreement gets out of hand and you unintentionally and unlawfully hurt someone seriously, you are liable to be charged with assault to the above definition. If, however, you deliberately and intentionally cause someone to be seriously harmed, that is a much more significant crime and you can be liable to imprisonment for life. This can include causing serious injury to a police officer in the course of resisting arrest or intervening in their duties with respect to someone else.