Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm WA
Assault occasioning bodily harm is a serious criminal offence that can have a profound impact on your life, including impacting on your ability to travel overseas, future employment in certain industries and in some cases, a term of imprisonment.
Here we explain the charge of assault occasioning bodily harm in Western Australia and information relevant to this charge, including the maximum penalty, circumstances of aggravation, and common defences.
If you have been charged with this type of assault offence, you must seek advice from a criminal lawyer as soon as possible.
Call Andrew Williams today on (08) 9278 2575 for legal advice and representation.
Definition of Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm
A charge of assault occasioning bodily harm arises where, as a result of an assault that causes another person bodily harm.
The definition of bodily harm refers to a bodily injury that interferes with health or comfort. The pain that a victim suffers as a result of an assault may self-evidently cause discomfort. However, this will not on its own substantiate bodily injury. An assault that does nothing more than amount to the victim suffering pain will not constitute the definition of bodily harm.
What is bodily harm?
Injuries that constitute bodily harm may be injuries that range from broken bones to a black eye or swelling and bruising. Even minor injuries like a minor abrasion can amount to bodily harm.
This type of offence is more serious than a common assault charge, but not as serious as grievous bodily harm which is an assault that is likely to cause permanent injury to health. The injury does not need to require medical treatment nor to be a long-term injury.
Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm Sentencing Guidelines in WA
If the matter is determined in the Magistrates Court, the offence carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment of 2 years and a fine of $24,000. However, if the assault occasioning bodily harm is committed in circumstances of aggravation the maximum penalty is a term of imprisonment of 3 years and a fine of $36,000.
An assault occasioning bodily harm charge may also be determined on an indictment in the District Court where the maximum penalty increases to a term of imprisonment of 5 years or 7 years imprisonment if the offence was committed in circumstances of aggravation, including racial aggravation.
To understand which court will hear your matter and the likely outcome, you must speak with a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.
Circumstances of aggravation
Aggravated assault arises where the following circumstances existed at the time the alleged assault occurred:
- The accused is in a domestic relationship with the victim;
- A child was present during the assault;
- A restraining order was in place at the time the accused assaulted the victim (learn more about VROs here);
- The victim is aged 60 years or older; and
- The assault was racially motivated.
Racial aggravation occurs when the accused behaves with hostility towards the victim based on their membership to a racial group.
The presence of any of the above circumstances at the time of offending will class the matter as an aggravated offence, making the nature of that offending more serious.
Typically these matters are heard in the Magistrates Court however if the charge is determined on an indictment then it can be heard in the Supreme Court.
Possible Defences for Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm
Legal defences that may be considered against assault occasioning bodily harm include:
- Self-defence - the act was committed while they were defending themselves or another person, and they reasonably believed their actions were necessary and proportionate to the level of threat they believed they were facing.
- Duress - a person acts under duress due to fear of not complying with the demands of another person.
- Mental impairment - the accused was mentally impaired at the time of the offence and thus could not understand the nature of the act or that the act was wrong.
- Immature age - the accused was under the age of criminal liability when the act was committed and unable to understand the nature of the conduct. Children under 10 cannot be arrested, charged or found guilty of any criminal offence. In circumstances involving children between the ages of 10 and 14, the prosecution must show that the child understood the act that was committed was a crime and that it was wrong.
- Provocation - a defence of provocation can apply where the accused is not responsible for an assault if the victim provoked them in such a way that deprived the accused of their self-control. The force used must not be disproportionate to the provocation and not intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm.
Where one of the above defences is raised, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused's acts were not carried out in circumstances that give rise to the defence.
Need Legal Advice For An Assault Charge?
It's essential to consult with a criminal defence lawyer to understand your rights, possible defences, and the legal process involved if you are charged with the offence of Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm in WA.
Andrew Williams has offices based in Perth and Fremantle. He also represents clients in courts across Australia and the regional areas of WA and has extensive experience in representing individuals charged with Assault.
Contact the Law Offices of Andrew Williams for legal advice and representation in court on (08) 9278 2575.
Assault & Violent Offences
In the state of Western Australia, assault charges encompass a variety of conduct that is violent. This conduct varies greatly and carries different penalties based on the severity of harm, degree of violence involved and individual circumstances. The presence of a relevant legal defence also impacts the penalty imposed which can range from financial penalties to prison sentences. Other types of assault charges include:
- Common Assault - also referred to as unlawful assault, where a person applies force to another without that person's content, such as pushing, slapping, striking, kicking and spitting. Physical contact is not always necessary, as threatening harm can also be considered an assault.
- Assault of Public Officer - this includes an ambulance officer, Fire and Emergency Services officer, a person working in a hospital, or a person operating or driving a rail vehicle, ferry, taxi or bus, and bodily harm or grievous bodily harm is not required to have taken place. If the offence was committed in prescribed circumstances, where the public officer was a police officer, prison officer or security officer and bodily harm did occur, mandatory sentencing laws will apply with immediate imprisonment.
- Grievous Bodily Harm - the act of assault where the bodily injury either endangers life (or is likely to endanger life) or causes permanent injury to health (or is likely to cause permanent injury to health). This could include a broken jaw or a serious head injury.
- Assault With Intent - this offence occurs when the assault was carried out by a person with the intent of committing or facilitating the commission of a crime, committing grievous bodily harm to any person, or resisting or preventing the lawful arrest or detention of any person.
- Unlawful Wounding - this offence occurs when a person breaks both layers of the skin of another person, without lawful reason. This includes inflicting a cut, burn or stab wound however it is not necessary to have used a weapon, and the injury does not have to be severe or long-term.
- Unlawful Indecent Assault - this can encompass a wide range of behaviours and depends on the act itself, the circumstances of the conduct, and/or the relationship between the parties involved. It is sexual, without the consent of the other person.
- Sexual Assault - this includes sexual penetration without consent, indecent dealings with a child under 16 years of age, using electronic communication to procure a child to engage in sexual activity, distribution and possession of child pornography or child exploitation material, or sexual offences against a child of or over 16 where the accused is in a position of authority.
It's important to speak with an experienced assault lawyer for specific advice tailored to your matter as circumstances vary considerably from case to case.