Common assault is well quite a common charge in the Queensland courts. This page is designed to give a comprehensive overview of common assault laws in Queensland.
What is an assault?
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. As you can see the definition of assault is wide enough that you can be charged with common assault merely by threatening an assault.
Are there different types of assaults?
There are a number of different types of assault charges in Queensland ranging from common assault to assault occasioning grievous bodily harm.
What is common assault?
Common assault is the most frequent assault charge that the Queensland courts hear. Generally a person will be charged with common assault where the person assaulted has only minor injuries or no injuries at all. We often find this type of offence occurring in “pub brawl” types of situation or disputes between groups of people or quite commonly disputes at work that turn physical. A person can be charged with common assault just by threatening to assault someone.
What does the prosecutor need to prove?
The prosecutor needs to prove all of these elements of a common assault charge
- that the act was an assault
- that another person was assaulted
- that the other person did not consent to the assault
- that that assault was not authorised or justified or excused by law
What court hears the charge?
The charge is a misdemeanour and will be heard in the local Magistrates Court.
Are there any defences?
A number of defences may be available to an assault charge these include;
- self defence including self-defence of others
If you are charged with a common assault charge and you are pleading guilty you will appear before a Magistrate to be sentenced. In Queensland over 90% of matters are dealt with in the Magistrates Courts. A Magistrate, when sentencing you, for this offence will take into account the facts of the case, any previous criminal history and your personal circumstances. The best way to ensure a successful outcome is to make sure your circumstances and the facts of the case are put in a clear and concise way before the Magistrate.
If you are seeking for no conviction to be recorded it is important that the Magistrate understands how having a criminal record might affect you in the future.
Pleading Not Guilty
You can enter a plea of not guilty to the charge of common assault and elect to take the matter to a trial. The matter is dealt with in the Magistrates Court and no jury is present, only a Magistrate. If you plead not guilty, a brief of evidence will be served upon your lawyers. The brief of evidence contains all the evidence against you usually consisting of statements by alleged victim(s), witnesses and any forensic evidence. At the trial witnesses, police and any experts attend Court to give evidence orally. The witnesses are then made available for cross-examination by your lawyers. You have the right to give evidence at your trial or elect not to give evidence at all.
What is the penalty for common assault?
The maximum penalty for the offence is 3 years imprisonment. If the assault took place in a public place and the defendant was intoxicated the court will impose community service of between 40 and 240 hours in addition to any other penalty.
In general a first time offender with no criminal history might expect;
- a good behaviour bond
- a fine
- community service
- suspended prison sentence
The court is required under the Penalties and Sentences Act to consider the following when sentencing someone charged with common assault:
- the risk of physical harm to any members of the community if a custodial sentence were not imposed
- the need to protect any members of the community from that risk
- the personal circumstances of any victim of the offence
- the circumstances of the offence, including the death of or any injury to a member of the public or any loss or damage resulting from the offence
- the nature or extent of the violence used, or intended to be used, in the commission of the offence
- any disregard by the offender for the interests of public safety
- the past record of the offender, including any attempted rehabilitation and the number of previous offences of any type committed
- the antecedents, age and character of the offender
- any remorse or lack of remorse of the offender
- any medical, psychiatric, prison or other relevant report in relation to the offender
- anything else about the safety of members of the community that the sentencing court considers relevant
What have you achieved for clients in the past?
- Client was charged with common assault after tapping a person’s leg at work. The client says he tapped the persons leg to emphasised he should lift with his legs to avoid back injuries. The police would not drop the charge however on the morning of the trial we were finally about to convince the prosecutor to withdraw the charge.
- Client struck someone who yelled a racist insult at them. We were able to have the prosecutor withdraw the charge
- Our client and a friend got into a fight. Client was charged with common assault. We were able to have the matter referred to justice mediation and after that occurred the charges were withdrawn.
Why should I choose you and not just represent myself?
Just some reasons include:
- we know the Magistrates and what they want to hear to give you the best outcome for a common assault charge
- we have good relationships with the police prosecutors meaning we can often have them agree to the sentence we are asking the court to impose
- 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
- engaging us shows the court you are taking your charges seriously
- your matter will be heard early, often first, you do not have to wait for 20-30 other matters to be heard before you
- you will be fully informed of what is to happen in court and what this means for you after court
- unlike the police or the magistrate, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests
What courts do you attend?
We attend every court in South East Queensland from the Gold Coast to Gympie. We have offices at:
Bluedog Business Centre - Level 1, 16 McDougall Street, Milton 4064
Corporate Centre One - Level 15, 2 Corporate Court, Bundall 4217
Suite 4, 66 Duporth Avenue, Maroochydore 4558
Phone: 1300 952 255
Ipswich Corporate Office - 16 East Street, Ipswich 4305
M1 Business Centre - Level 2, 3972 Pacific Highway, Loganholme 4129
North Brisbane Serviced Offices - 3/22-24 Strathwyn Street, Brendale 4500
What do you charge?
We have fixed fees for all matters so you know exactly what you will pay. Click here to see what we will charge.
Links that may be of assistance
How to get in contact with us if you need a lawyer for a common assault charge?
If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;
- Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
- Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
If I contacted you what would occur?
If you contact us then Steven Brough the firm’s founder or our office manager Belinda Smyth will take the call or receive the email. They have 40 years legal experience between them, we can provide immediate legal assistance and answer any questions you have. We will discuss your case, provide guidance and send a quote by email with additional relevant information about your charge, all at no cost.
If you want to engage us then it’s easy, there is a form you can complete and email back or complete online. If you don’t want to engage us or want to engage another firm that’s fine, you won’t be hassled and at worst you will just have more information about your charge.
Once engaged one of our lawyers will go through your matter and contact you to discuss what the best way forward is to achieve the best results. In many cases you won’t even need to come into the office. Every one of our lawyers are very experienced with thousands of courts appearances between them and they know the courts and the Magistrates.