Assaults Charges & Offences (Battery) Lawyer in Sydney NSW

Being charged with assault, even if it’s a first offence can be serious in Sydney, NSW.  It can be a difficult and stressful experience as well as carry the possibility of getting a criminal record and being convicted.

man charged with assault

What you need to know…


This page contains some general information about assault including the maximum penalty that may apply if a conviction is made.

With one of the highest acquittal rates, you may wish to contact us for an appointment to discuss how we can get the best result for you.


Plea Options for assault charges:

When faced with an assault charge in NSW you can either plead not guilty or guilty.  Here is a brief summary of your plea options and what happens when you’re charged with assault:

Pleading not guilty

If you plead not guilty we will use our expertise and experience to fight for the withdrawal of the alleged charges against you.

This can be done in writing formally to the prosecution requesting the withdrawal for the following reasons:

  1. There is a valid defence, for example self-defence, duress, necessity or lawful correction (more on this below)
  2. A case cannot be proved against you because the necessary element is not high enough

To sufficiently prove that you conducted an act of assault the following must be satisfied:

  1. “Actual bodily harm” in “assault occasioning actual bodily harm” cases
  2. “Recklessness” in “reckless wounding” or “Grievous Bodily Harm” with intent cases
  3. Intent in wound or “Grievous Bodily Harm” with intent cases
  4. A police officer was acting in the execution of duty in “assault police cases”

If the prosecution proceeds with the case against you it will be defended at a hearing or jury trial where we will fight to prove your innocence.

Pleading Guilty

If you are pleading guilty we will fight to get you the best possible result and the shortest possible time served or a lesser sentence.

In the process we:

  • Persuade police to accept less serious charges (i.e. common rather than occasioning bodily harm)
  • Request the withdraw all charges except for an apprehended violence order
  • Request that certain parts of the police statement be deleted or amended in parts to better represent the full facts based on allegations. For example, the words “punched in head” can be changed to pushed

Max Penalties for Assault Charges:

If you plead guilty to a charge the table illustrates the maximum penalties.

Type of Assault Common Assault Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm Assaulting of Police in Execution of Duty

Recklessly Causing Grievous Bodily Harm or wounding:


Grievous bodily harm with intent and wounding with intent:


Maximum Sentence 2 years 5 years 14 years 10 years, if committed in company with another person up to 14 years 25 years
Criminal Record Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Common Assault in NSW Definition

Common assault in NSW refers to the unauthorized touching of another person.  This includes actions that cause fear of immediate and unlawful personal violence


Common Assault

Individuals are charged with assault if an attack is made but an injury of “bodily harm” or “grievous bodily harm” did not result.  This means that any common attack is sufficient.

Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm is more serious than that of common assault.  This charging is applicable where actual bodily injury has occurred.

Assaulting of police in execution of duty:

police at work

Assaulting a police officer

Police officers are to carry out and exercise the law in a fair and reasonable manner.  However, there are cases where excessive force has been used.  In the event of excessive force, you may have no choice but to resist or fight back.  This may lead to the shock of being charged with “assaulting a police officer”.  However, this can be defended for example self-defense or duress can be argued on your behalf.

Consultation Strictly Appointment Only

Recklessly Causing Grievous Bodily Harm or wounding:

A charge of “recklessly causing grievous bodily harm or wounding” means you have caused serious injuries to another person due to your reckless actions.  Grievous bodily harm includes any permanent, long-lasting, life-threatening or seriously disfiguring of another person.

Grievous bodily harm with intent and wounding with intent:

This is similar to reckless grievous bodily harm.  However, the main distinction is the injuries were inflicted with intent.

Defenses to Assault:

The main defences to assault are:

  • Self-defence
  • Duress
  • Necessity, and
  • Lawful correction


Self-defence is a common defence to an assault charge.

Generally speaking, a person is not responsible for their conduct that constitutes the offence if they carried it out in self-defence.

There are 2 elements in order to use self-defence as a defence.

Firstly, for self-defence to be applicable the conduct is required to be deemed necessary for as least one of the following reasons:

  1. Defending themselves or another person
  2. Preventing or terminating an unlawful deprivation of his or her liberty or of another person
  • Protecting property from unlawful taking, destruction, damage or interference, or
  1. Preventing criminal trespass to any land or premises or to remove a person committing any such trespass


The second element required is that the conduct is a reasonable response to the circumstances present:

  1. There was a genuine belief that assault was necessary to defend themselves, another person or property
  2. The assault was a reasonable response to a perceived threat



Duress occurs where a person is forced beyond their control to undertake an act that may cause death or serious harm.

Example of Duress

An armed bank robber during a robbery may instruct the bank staff to strike or subdue a civilian.  If they do not do as they asked the armed robber threatens to shoot the staff member.

The defence of duress may be used if the following elements are satisfied:

  1. There was a reasonable possibility that the assault was committed due to the reasonable threat of death or serious injury
  2. There was a reasonable possibility that an ordinary person would have committed the assault
  • There were no other options or reasonable opportunities to avoid the threat otherwise.


Necessity can be used as a defence where a person undertakes to perform a specific act as a reaction to an emergency.  This act is carried out to prevent death or serious injury to themselves or others.

Example of Necessity

If we take the bank robbery scenario again.  A civilian trying to escape the robbery may by accident bump into someone else and cause them some injury during the panic of trying to escape the situation.

There are 3 elements in order to satisfy that the assault was based on necessity:

  1. Sudden or extraordinary circumstances did not exist, and
  2. The committed assault was the only reasonable way to deal with the emergency
  • The conduct was a reasonable response to the emergency

Lawful Correction

Lawful correction is a defence to an assault of a child by its caregivers, such as parents or a student by a teacher.

This defence can be used in cases where a child has been assaulted if:

  • The physical force applied by the parent or person acting for the parent of the child
  • The application of that physical force was reasonable. Regard is given to the age, health, maturity and other characteristics of the child and the nature of the alleged misbehavior any other relevant circumstances will be taken into consideration.

Examples of Lawful Correction include:

  • Disciplining a young child by smacking their bottom as punishment
  • Physically restraining a child
  • Pushing a child towards his/her room

All these examples are on the basis that excessive for has not been used.


Ross Hill & Associate Solicitors have worked with many assault charges in Sydney NSW.  You should contact us to get the proper legal advice.  Our experienced criminal lawyers in Sydney will map our the best approach to defend your case.


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