Assault and Criminal Offences of Violence

‘Assault’ and ‘offences of violence’ are broad categories of criminal offences. They refer to the use (or threatened use of force) by one person against another which is not authorised, justified or excused by law. Therefore, these types of offences include manslaughter, attempted murder and murder. In this article, we will explore the meaning of assault and criminal offences of violence.

What is the Meaning of Assault?

There are several types of offences involving violence and they are generally distinguished by their level of severity. The nature of the injury/injuries sustained by the victim will impact what is regarded to be severe. In seeking to define assault, there are various categories that are applied, ie, types of assault. 

Common Assault

The least serious of all offences of violence is ‘common assault’. In fact, it doesn’t require any injury to actually be inflicted. For instance, to satisfy this offence all that is required is that the force applied by the offender results in some pain or discomfort. Also, this offence doesn’t even require any actual physical contact to be made between the offender and the victim. As a result, the act of simply threatening physical force can be sufficient to constitute this offence.

Serious Assault

A ‘serious assault’ is an offence of common assault committed in particular circumstances, as identified by law. These circumstances include where the victim is a police officer, aged 60 years or more or disabled.

Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm

Assault occasioning bodily harm‘ occurs where the offender commits an assault which results in actual injury to the victim. Common examples of injuries are bruises, cuts or even the breaking of bones. This offence becomes aggravated if the offender commits the offence whilst in the company of one or more other persons, or is armed (or pretends to be) armed with a weapon.

Wounding

‘Wounding’ occurs where an offender causes the breaking or penetration of the skin of the victim. Common examples are stab wounds or ‘glassing’ incidents. Often, these types of situations can happen as a form of assault when drunk.

Grievous Bodily Harm

‘Grievous bodily harm’ occurs where an offender inflicts an injury on a victim that:

  • causes serious disfigurement
  • causes the loss of a distinct part of the body or an organ
  • assault when a dangerous wound is inflicted that would have been life-threatening if the victim had not been medically treated

There are several defences to charges of offences of violence. The most common defences are self-defence or provocation. Whether or not these can be raised will depend upon the factual matrix within which the offending occurs. There is also the matter of how assault impacts the individual and the community, which will differ case-by-case.

If you’re needing assistance with matters concerning assault and offences of violence, Cridland & Hua are the specialists amongst Brisbane Law Firms, practising exclusively in criminal and quasi-criminal law. Contact us today.

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