Aggravated assault, ABH, GBH
Common assault is one of the most prosecuted criminal offences in the Local and District Courts given its ability to cover a wide range of complaints. In fact, common assault can occur without touching at all. For example, threatening death or injury, spitting on someone or raising a hand to someone in anger.
Assault charges differ by a number of factors, including whether the act was intentional, reckless and the extent of the injury occasioned. And, it is not uncommon for the police to run several of assault charges at once.
So, what are the different degrees of harm in assault cases?
An assault charge may be aggravated if circumstances permit. For example, use of a weapon, reckless wounding or infliction of grievous bodily harm, or assaulting police may attract increased penalties and possible gaol time.
Circumstances may attract a charge of actual bodily harm (ABH) or grievous bodily harm (GBH). While actual bodily harm isn’t defined under the NSW Crimes Act, the court has included scratches, bruises and serious psychological injury.
Grievous bodily harm covers a wide range of offences. It requires that injuries are really serious, but not permanent or life threatening. ABH can attract up to 7 years gaol, while GBH can attract up to a gaol sentence of life. GBH is an indictable offence and so is heard in a District or Supreme Court.
Like common assault, defences to aggravated assault, ABH and GBH include self-defence, duress, necessity and consent. However, the consent defence won’t apply where harm occasioned is very serious.
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