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Common Assault

– section 23 of the Summary Offences Act 1966
common assault


Common Assault is used when the police think you have unlawfully assaulted or physically beaten another person.

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.

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?

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for Common Assault is imprisonment for 3 months or a fine of 15 penalty units ($2,331.90).

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

“Were you acting in self-defence? “
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 1966.1

prison penalty sentencing

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

Sentencing is different depending on what court it is heard in.

If in Magistrates’ Court

If in County Court

Other Important Resources


Case Studies


[1] Summary Offences Act 1966 – Section 23

Any person who unlawfully assaults or beats another person shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: 15 penalty units or imprisonment for three months.