Actual Bodily Harm

Criminal Law, Miscellaneous, Recent Cases

Actual Bodily Harm

Assault occasioning actual bodily harm is a type of common assault and is considered as a serious offence.

Under sec 59 of Crimes Act 1900 this offence attracts maximum penalty of 5 years. The penalty increases to 7 years if the offence is committed in the company of someone else. However, if the matter is dealt with in the local court where the maximum penalty is 2 years.


Actual Bodily Harm means any injury which is calculated to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim. The injury does not have to be permanent but must be more than ‘merely transient or trifling’.

The extent of the injury as well as the degree violence are a material consideration in sentencing. Scratches and bruises amount to actual bodily harm. Surprisingly, the Courts consider psychological harm, to a substantial degree, as actual bodily harm.

What needs to be proved

The prosecution does not have to show the intent of the accused to cause harm to the victim to prove guilt. All they have to show that an offence has occurred resulting in actual bodily harm. The prosecution needs to show beyond reasonable doubt each of the following:

  • Committed an act of applied force to another person;
  • You did so intentionally or recklessly;
  • Did so without the consent of the person;
  • Without lawful excuse;
  • Your action caused bodily harm to the person.

Available defence

Self defence is the most common defence used to actual bodily harm charge.

Other defences include duress, necessity, lack of intent or recklessness to assault, the injuries caused are not due to the assault or they do not constitute actual bodily harm.

Emphasis is given to the facts presented by the prosecution as to how the incident occurred. The prosecution has to prove that the incident has occurred in the manner they allege, which can be disputed.

Sec 10 Bond

The Courts have discretion to hand out sec 10 bond to a criminal offence. It means the court does not record a criminal conviction and give good behaviour bond for a specific period. But it is not always attainable due to the seriousness of the crime even if there no criminal history.

However, if we convince the court not to convict you based on the antecedents, persons character, age and heath and mental condition.

If you have been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, our experts at Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers can help you. Call in to book an appointment.




Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers is a law firm that specialises in Criminal and Traffic Law. Our passionate and dedicated team of expert lawyers represent clients daily in the Local, District, and Supreme Courts of NSW.


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