The 5 Types of Assault Charges in NSW and What They Mean

When people refer to assault, they’re often talking about common assault. Or are they talking about aggravated assault? Maybe they’re talking about assault with the intention to do grievous bodily harm.

The thing is, without the necessary legal skills and knowledge, people refer to assault without, firstly, understanding what it means, and, secondly, knowing that there are different types of assault in NSW.

In this post, we’ll help solve this problem by looking at the 5 types of assault charges in NSW in more detail. 

What are the 5 Different Types of Assault?

There are 5 different types of assault in New South Wales, each with its own defining characteristics. In addition, the degree of injury and, as such, the severity of the penalty varies for every type. Let’s look at these types in more detail.

Common Assault

A charge of common assault results when the victim has suffered no significant injuries or injuries that aren’t considered as serious. As such, common assault is not as serious as the other types which we’ll deal with later. It’s also for this reason that cases of common assault are typically dealt with in local courts and seldom make their way to district courts.

Aggravated Assault

In contrast to common assault, a charge of aggravated assault is the result when a victim has suffered serious injuries. These assaults are also characterised by the degree of harm suffered by the victim. When adjudicated, the penalties for aggravated assault are proportional to the harm inflicted on the victim.

Actual Bodily Harm

Assault occasioning actual bodily harm occurs when the victim suffers a physical or mental injury. As a result, this type of assault is considered more serious and currently carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. However, to successfully prosecute a case of this type, the prosecuting team must prove that the injury suffered by the victim interferes directly with how they live their life.

Grievous Bodily Harm

Grievous bodily harm is the most serious type of assault and charges of this type indicate that the victim has suffered serious injuries, even though it’s not necessary that these injuries have lasting effects. It’s also for this reason that charges of this type almost always result in a term of imprisonment if the accused is found guilty. Currently, offenders can be sentenced to up to 25 years imprisonment if found guilty on this charge.


As is the case with grievous bodily harm, wounding is also considered a serious charge. This type of assault happens when the victim’s skin is broken beyond the first layer. 

To successfully prosecute an offender on this charge, the prosecuting team must show that it was the accused that caused the injury and, if successful, a conviction almost always results in a term of imprisonment. Currently, these terms vary between 7 and 10 years. 

What Defences Can You Use Against a Charge of Assault?

Fortunately, if you happen to be charged with assault, no matter what type, there are several defences available to you. For example, you might allege that the victim had consented to an activity that carries an inherent risk of harm. Keep in mind, however, that depending on the severity of the injury, you may still be convicted of assault.

Likewise, you can demonstrate that the injuries suffered by the victim were as a result of you protecting yourself. In other words, you’ll be able to claim self-defence. In addition to these defences, there are others like lawful excuses or lawful chastisement. No matter what defence you use, however, every case will be adjudicated on its own merits.

Hopefully, you now understand the different types of assault a bit better. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having been accused of assault, get in touch with Riviere Law. We’re criminal law experts who can help if you’ve been charged.

Adrianna Tori

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