A common assault offence may be laid against somebody in circumstances where somebody has threatened the use of force against another (and had the means to carry out that force), or in circumstances where a physical act against somebody has resulted in the victim suffering pain or discomfort. There need not be an identifiable visible injury sustained by the victim for this offence to be satisfied, and this offence is regarded as the least-serious of the offences categorised under the assault umbrella.
In Queensland, the Criminal Code defines serious assault as an aggravated form of common assault. Again, there need not be any identifiable visible injury sustained by a person, but there does need to be a circumstance of aggravation. The circumstances of aggravation giving rise to this offence can occur in one or more of the following situations:
Where the assault is upon a police officer;
- Where the assault is upon a person over 60 years of age;
- Where the assault is upon a disabled person; and/or
- Where the assault occurs in a correctional facility.
Given there is a circumstance of aggravation that separates this offence from one of common assault, the maximum penalties imposed by law are higher.
Assaults Occasioning Bodily Harm
A more serious form of assault is one whereby the assault causes a victim to suffer bodily harm. Bodily harm is a very broad term, and includes injuries as minor as scratches or bruising up to more serious injuries, provided the injuries sustained do not lead to death, permanent injury, or physical disfigurement, such as a broken limb not requiring medical treatment.
Given the injuries sustained by the victim are more serious than a charge of common assault, the maximum penalties imposed by the Courts are higher. Charges of this nature can also be committed where a circumstance of aggravation is alleged, such as when a weapon is used, or when the offence is committed in the company of one or more other people. A circumstance of aggravation further increases the maximum penalty that can be imposed on a person charged with this offence.
An offence of unlawful wounding is made out in circumstances where an act of violence results in the skin of the victim being penetrated, commonly by a glass or other sharp instrument. Like assault occasioning bodily harm, the injuries can range in nature.
Grievous Bodily Harm
Grievous bodily harm is a very serious example of an assault, and although the actions of the defendant may not be viewed as being that substantial, the injuries sustained by the victim give rise to the serious penalties imposed on people charged with this offence. Grievous bodily harm occurs in circumstances where the injuries sustained are so severe that they could result in serious injury, disfigurement, or death if the victim was not provided medical treatment.
The definition of what constitutes grievous bodily harm is often subject to expert medical opinion, and matters of this nature are often contested on difference of opinion between experts. Russo Lawyers has successfully defended a large number of clients through engaging reliable, accurate, and well-regarded opinion of medical experts.