Clarity Law

Specialist Criminal Law Firm Queensland
Wednesday, 06 November 2019 18:09

Quick Guide to Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm

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As part of our ongoing quick guide series we are looking at various criminal charges in Queensland in more detail. Today we are looking at assault occasioning bodily harm mostly abbreviated to AOBH.

What is Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm?

The criminal code section 339 lists the offence as

Any person who unlawfully assaults another and thereby does the other person bodily harm is guilty of a crime

The definition of an assault is where a person strikes, touches, moves, or otherwise applies force of any kind to another person, directly or indirectly, without the other person’s consent or threatens to apply force of any kind to another provided that the person making the attempt or threat has the ability to carry it out.

Bodily harm means any injury that interferes with the complainant’s health or comfort.


How do Queensland police usually investigate this charge?

The police are usually called to investigate after receiving a complaint from the victim or witness. Generally the police will take a statement of the victim and any other person that witnessed the assault. They will then seek out any CCTV or other footage. Finally they will seek out the alleged defendant and see if they will make a statement (if you are asked to give a statement always seek legal advice before agreeing).


What do the police or DPP need to prove?

To successfully prosecute the charge of assault occasioning bodily harm the police or DPP must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that;

  • The assault took place;
  • The assault was unlawful; and
  • That the injury amounted to bodily harm.


What court hears the charge of assault occasioning bodily harm?

The charge of assault occasioning bodily harm can be heard in the Magistrates court only if the defendant agrees, if they do not agree the charge must be heard in the District Court.


What defences to assault occasioning bodily harm exist?

A number of defences may be available to an assault charge these include;

  • provocation
  • self defence
  • accident
  • duress
  • necessity

The defences most often raised for an assault occasioning bodily harm charge is self defence, self defence of another or provocation.


Charge this charge be withdrawn or reduced?

It is possible to negotiate with the prosecutor over the charges. This is known as case conferencing Case and usually occurs once the police prosecutors brief (known as the QP9) is provided to the defendant or their lawyer. The QP9 will set out what the police prosecutor intends to tell the court happened. This includes the details of the alleged assault, what injury the victim has suffered and any reason why the assault may have occurred.

Some examples of successful case conferencing we have achieved are;

  • An AOBH charge was withdrawn as our client was acting in their own self-defence after being confronted and threatened by the complainant in a pub.
  • Had the AOBH charge withdrawn as our client was protecting his partner after she was attacked by the complainant.
  • Convinced the prosecutor to reduce the charge to common assault as we were able to show the injuries did not fit the definition of AOBH. Reducing the charge to common assault meant the client was punished with a fine only and no conviction was recorded.
  • Having the prosecutor withdraw the charge after we were able to show our client was provoked by a number of racial remarks were yelled at him over an extended period.
  • Being able to convince the prosecutor to withdraw the charge after convincing them that the complainant’s statement was unreliable and he was grossly intoxicated at the time of the offence.
  • Having the AOBH charge withdrawn by the prosecutor after we showed that the CCTV footage was unclear and that they could not be satisfied that it was our client that assaulted the complainant and that other person’s present could have inflicted the injury.


What are the potential penalties if pleading guilty or being found guilty?

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment or 10 years if the assault took place in company with another person or if the defendant was armed or pretended to be armed with a weapon.

The court has a wide variety of penalties it can impose for a person pleading guilty to or found guilty of an assault charge, the type of penalty the court might impose depends on the charge, the circumstance of the offending, the person’s previous criminal history and the injuries suffered by the victim.  The types of penalties the court could impose includes;

  • Good behaviour bond
  • Fine
  • Community service
  • Parole
  • Jail sentence with immediate parole
  • Jail sentence wholly suspended
  • Intensive corrections order (ICO)
  • term of actual imprisonment

In practise the court would rarely impose a penalty less than a fine. In most cases the penalties range from a fine to actual imprisonment. Of the 4,638 assault occasioning bodily harm charges heard in Queensland Magistrates court since October 2014 the results expressed as a percentage were;

 Good behaviour bond      3.6%
 Fine 26.3%
 Probation 19.1%
 Community Service   6.3%
 ICO   1.0%
 Prison (suspended)   13.8%
 Prison (actual) 29.7%


As the statistics show in almost one third of cases a person is sentenced to a term of actual imprisonment.


Can Clarity Law help me?

Engaging Clarity Law gives you the best chance at obtaining avoiding a jail sentence or not having a conviction recorded. We appear every week in the courts with people charged with assault, it is this experience that allows us to get the best result for clients.  Other law firms simply don’t have the experience that we do.

  1. we know the judges and what they want to hear to give you the best outcome
  2. we have good relationships with the police prosecutors meaning we can often have them not seek a jail sentence
  3. we are there to help you through the process and make everything as stress free as possible, in most cases you will not have to say anything in court
  4. engaging us shows the court you are taking your charges seriously
  5. your matter will be heard early, often first, you do not have to wait for 20-30 other matters to be heard before you
  6. you will be fully informed of what is to happen in court and what this means for you after court
  7. unlike the police or the Judge, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests


Do you have an office near me?

We appear in every court in south East Queensland between The Gold Coast and Bundaberg and out to Toowoomba and beyond. We also have a 5 star rating on Google and Facebook. We have offices at:

Sunshine Coast

Level 3, 14-18 Duporth Avenue

Maroochydore 4558



Level 1, 16 McDougall Street


Phone: 0730677017 



Level 15, 2 Corporate Court


Phone: 0756132683 



Level 2, 3972 Pacific Highway


Phone: 0736680683 



16 East Street


Phone: 0734850147 



3/22-24 Strathwyn Street


Phone: 0734850184 


Need more Information or legal help?

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Read 4125 times Last modified on Wednesday, 27 October 2021 03:36
Steven Brough

Steven Brough is a criminal defence lawyer and founder of Clarity Law with over 22 years experience he has appeared in almost every court in Queensland representing clients charged with criminal offences and getting them the best outcome possible.