Assault, Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, Recklessly Causing Grievous Bodily Harm – next step legal guide

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The different types of Assaults are categorised by the level of injury, as follows:

  • Common Assault – an assault with no injury, slight bruising, swelling or redness (Maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment – s.61 of the Crimes Act 1900);
  • Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm – covers an assault which at the lower end at least causes a bruise that stays for a few days, all the way up to burns, broken bones, diminished sight or hearing, even psychological injury (Maximum Penalty of 5 years imprisonment, or 7 years if in company with another person – s.59 of the Crimes Act 1900)
  • Recklessly Causing Grievous Bodily Harm – an assault with a really serious or permanent injury such as serious burns causing scarring,  causing brain damage, breaking an bone that requires surgery, even transmitting a disease to another (Maximum Penalty of 10 years imprisonment, or 14 if in company with another person – s.35 of the Crimes Act 1900)

What is an assault?

It is not just a hit or a kick. An assault can be defined as an unwanted touching (a battery) or by intentionally or recklessly causing another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence. An assault can be committed without even touching another person and in some cases by words alone. A hostile look through a window has been found to be an assault.

There are legal defences to all kinds of assault even recklessly causing grievous bodily harm. Does your scenario fit into a legal defence? All assaults have the following possible defences:

  • Lawful Correction – if the correction is ‘reasonable and warranted’ this can be a defence to a parent punishing a child ;
  • Self-Defence – if a person believes that the conduct was necessary to defend themselves or another and the conduct is a reasonable response in the circumstances as the person perceives them ;
  • Defence of Another ;
  • Defence of Property ;
  • Identification – have they got the wrong person?


Ideally you should speak to your solicitor before you speak to police – you need advice as to your rights and obligations so that you are more comfortable with the processes and understand what is happening. Only then can you make the best decisions.



1.     Contact us. Early contact with Tankard’s Law is extremely important, so that you can start to take the right actions immediately. Photographing your own injuries. Having a doctor catalogue your injuries. Obtaining advice in relation to making a statement to police or not. You need early advice.   

2.     Gather material immediately. You should immediately type out your version of what occurred during the incident and provide this to your lawyer – details get lost in your memory over time. This step is crucial. You should find out who else might be a witness to what took place and get their details.

3.     Prepare. Your best chance in achieving the outcome that you want is to prepare your case properly. Let us help you. 

If you have a question about the processes involved in arrest or charge, or attending court and what charges you face or need help understanding what the police are saying to you, contact us by phone on 02 6921 3220 or make a website enquiry.  We will get back to you promptly.

Principal Solicitor and Director, Zac Tankard, has been helping Riverina locals charged with criminal offences since 1998. There is no one better qualified to get behind you when you need it most.