Common Assault

In Victoria, the offence of Common Assault is in section 23 of the Summary Offences Act 1966, which is the physical or apprehended contact of another without their consent.

Do the Police say you have committed a Common Assault? If yes, call our firm to receive confidential legal advice about how best to deal with this allegation.

We are criminal lawyers who have dedicated our careers to representing people accused of wrong-doing such as Common Assault.

Police interview

The Police are not on your side when they accuse you of wrong-doing. Therefore, take the time to receive legal advice before speaking with Police an allegation of Common Assault. We can advise you what to expect at the Police interview, what you are not obliged to tell them and what you are not obliged to give them.

If you make admissions that you do not mean during your Police interview, you may be unable to run a defence later on in Court. Do not paint yourself into a corner.

Our lawyers can also attend the Police station with you if you feel more comfortable having someone on your side.

Pleading not guilty

If you have been charged with Common Assault, we can work out a defence strategy for you. It is good to get onto this early because there may be evidence which helps your case that needs to be preserved before it is lost.

In defending a charge of Common Assault, you want a lawyer who is going to consider – Is there relevant CCTV footage? Is there DNA evidence? Are there people who the Police have not spoken to who can shed some light on this case? Is there evidence that shows you are not guilty?

This investigation may lead to charges being withdrawn or an acquittal.

We believe it is very important to take the time to carefully discuss matters with our clients, so they know that they are up against.

Pleading guilty

If you decide to plead guilty to Common Assault, we can represent you at Court at your plea hearing. We can prepare a plea strategy for you to ensure that you have the right material for the best possible outcome. Our lawyers have appeared in many plea hearings and can effectively explain your circumstances to the sentencing Magistrate. We know what works.


Sentencing in the higher courts of Victoria
Sentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Common Assault in the Higher Courts of Victoria Between 2016 and 2021

At the VIC higher courts, 330 charges of common assault were heard from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2022. The sentencing outcome for majority of these charges was imprisonment (259 or 78.5%). Most of the prison terms imposed were less than 1 year although there were a few that were between 1 to 2 years.

Other sentences imposed were Community Correction Order (52 or 15.8%), fine (6 or 1.8%), Youth Justice Centre Order (6 or 1.8%), and other forms of penalties (7 or 2.1%).

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria
Sentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Unlawful Assault in the Magistrates' Court of Victoria Between 2018 and 2021

At the Magistrates’ Courts, 22,045 charges of unlawful assault were sentenced between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2021. Most of the charges also resulted in imprisonment (6,727 or 30.5%) with less than 3 months as the most commonly imposed prison term. The longest period imposed was 18 < 24 months.

Other sentences imposed were adjourned undertaking (6,058 or 27.5%), Community Correction Order (4,934 or 22.4%), fine (4,044 or 18.3%), discharge/dismissal (200 or 0.9%), and other forms of penalties (82 or 0.4%).

Which court will the case be heard in?

Common Assault is a summary offence which will be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

Examples of Common Assault
  • Without provocation, someone punches a stranger in the head at the local supermarket.
  • A bouncer punches a patron in the head for deliberately throwing a full glass of wine on the floor.

Our client was a bouncer and had a recent conviction for hitting a patron with an open hand. Following the conviction, our client came to see us. After reviewing the evidence, we advised our client to file an appeal against conviction. Following the appeal, the Judge dismissed the charges and ordered the police to pay our client’s costs.

Elements: What is the legal definition of Common Assault

In legal terms, Common Assault means assaulting or physically beating another person without a legal excuse.


The section that covers this offence is section 23 of the Summary Offences Act 1966.

What are some of the possible defences to a Common Assault charge?
  • You were acting in self-defence.
  • You did not assault anyone.
  • You never intended to assault anyone.

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • How can they prove it wasn’t a case of self-defence?
  • How can they prove the offender’s identity?
“Were you acting in self-defence? “
Maximum penalty for section 23 of the Summary Offences Act 1966

Common Assault (s23 of the Summary Offences Act 1966) has a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 3 months or a fine of 15 penalty units ($2,331.90).

Other Important Resources
Case Studies