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Updated: Dec 1, 2022


What does it take to commit an assault offence in Queensland?

How does the law define Assault?

As outlined in the Criminal Code Act 1899, section 245, the definition of assault is:

“A person who strikes, touches, or moves, or otherwise applies force of any kind to, the person of another, either directly or indirectly, without the other person’s consent, or with the other person’s consent if the consent is obtained by fraud, or who by any bodily act or gesture attempts or threatens to apply force of any kind to the person of another without the other person’s consent, under such circumstances that the person making the attempt or threat has actually or apparently a present ability to effect the person’s purpose, is said to assault that other person, and the act is called an assault.”

Types of Assault Offences in Queensland

Common assault, serious assault, malicious acts and other offences of violence fall under the category of assault.

The distinction as to what offences are categorised as common assault, assault occasioning bodily harm, and grievous bodily harm often comes down to the injuries sustained by the victim.

Common Assault

Common assault has a maximum penalty of imprisonment for three years.

Generally, common assault involves actions of pushing, shoving, and punching, which result in minor or no injuries to the victim.

However, a common assault offence could also be committed where there is no physical contact with another individual as a threat to cause harm is sufficient to charge a person with common assault in certain circumstances.

Serious Assault

Serious assault is an offence which carries a harsher punishment than common assualt. An individual may be charged with serious assault if any of the following characteristics are present in the offence:

• The assault is on a police officer;

• The assault is on a person aged over 60;

• The assault is on a disabled person; and

• The assault occurs whilst an individual is in custody.

If found guilty, the penalty for serious assault is 7 years imprisonment. This could be heightened to 14 years if the circumstance involves in any way applying bodily fluid or faeces to a police officer or causing bodily harm to a police officer.

Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm

As outlined in the Criminal Code Act 1899, Section 339, any person who unlawfully assaults another and thereby does the other person bodily harm is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for 7 years. However, if the offender commits bodily harm whilst armed with a dangerous or offensive weapon or instrument or is in company with one or more persons, the offender is liable to 10 years imprisonment.

Malicious Acts with Intent

Section 317 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 references malicious acts with intent as “acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm and other malicious acts.” The law states:

Any person who, with intent—

(a) to maim, disfigure or disable, any person; or

(b) to do some grievous bodily harm or transmit a serious

disease to any person; or

(c) to resist or prevent the lawful arrest or detention of any person; or

(d) to resist or prevent a public officer from acting in

accordance with lawful authority—


(e) in any way unlawfully wounds, does grievous bodily

harm, or transmits a serious disease to, any person; or

(f) unlawfully strikes, or attempts in any way to strike, any

person with any kind of projectile or anything else

capable of achieving the intention; or

(g) unlawfully causes any explosive substance to explode;


(h) sends or delivers any explosive substance or other

dangerous or noxious thing to any person; or

(i) causes any such substance or thing to be taken or

received by any person; or

(j) puts any corrosive fluid or any destructive or explosive

substance in any place; or

(k) unlawfully casts or throws any such fluid or substance at

or upon any person, or otherwise applies any such fluid

or substance to the person of any person;

is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for life.

Grievous Bodily Harm

In order for an individual to be charged with grievous bodily harm, the victim must sustain a certain type of injury, namely a loss of distinct body part or an organ of the body, serious disfigurement or any bodily injury that if left untreated, would endanger or be likely to endanger life or cause or be likely to cause permanent injury to health. Read more:


There are a number of full and partial defences available to an individual who is charged with an assault offence.

Given the potential consequences, it is important that representation is obtained early to ensure your interests are being properly protected.

We are here to help you.

Criminal law firm based in Toowoomba, Roma, Brisbane and Townsville. Diversely spread and uniquely targeted, our specialised criminal lawyers and accredited specialists know how to navigate trials and charges of all kinds. Contact our team of skilled lawyers incorporating accredited specialists today.

Phone: 07 3009 6555

For around the clock service, please do not hesitate to contact our 24/7 Crime Hotline on 1800 2746 3529.

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