Queensland is currently facing an increase in the damage inflicted by violent crime. While the actual number of offenders appears to be decreasing, there has been a spike in violent crime right across the state in the past 10 years, amongst young and adult offenders alike. These include not just assaults, but also theft, property-based offences, and breaches of domestic violence protection orders. The Government has taken notice of this trend, and has recently introduced tougher new laws targeting young offenders.
As community expectations for a comprehensive response to this problem increase, it is likely that the police will continue to take a tough stance on violent crime. Currently, the law in Queensland has a number of assault offences that range in seriousness and penalties. Understanding these laws is crucial to not only appreciating what is considered to be violent behaviour, but also knowing when to seek legal advice.
Types of Violent Offences
The offence of Common Assault is contained in Section 335 of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld). It stipulates that anyone who unlawfully assaults someone is liable to a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment. Common Assault may be considered amongst the most straightforward of the assault offences, and it is dealt with in the Magistrates Court.
While Common Assault is a relatively minor assault charge, it is important to appreciate that the offence encompasses even minor injuries, and includes conduct such as punching, striking, pushing, or even threatening someone in certain situations. As such, even a small scuffle outside of a nightclub, for example, could be enough to result in a Common Assault charge.
Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm
This is the next major assault charge that is covered by Queensland law, and it is considered a more serious offence than Common Assault. The charge of Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm, often abbreviated as AOBH, is assault when the victim suffers injuries that interfere with their health or comfort. What constitutes an injury is broad in nature, and can include bruising or swelling, or injuries where the victim needs to go to the hospital as a result. The maximum penalty for AOBH is 7 years imprisonment, although this can be increased to 10 years imprisonment if there is a circumstance of aggravation in the offending, for instance, if the offender is armed with a weapon, or if the assault was done by more than one person. For these reasons, the penalties for this offence can vary, but may be severe in some cases.
Grievous Bodily Harm
The offence of Grievous Bodily Harm, or GBH, is one of the most serious offences in Queensland, and terms of imprisonment are usually expected if someone is convicted. In order for an assault to qualify as GBH, the injury to the victim has to be one where they have received serious disfigurement, the loss of a key part of an organ, or an injury that, if left untreated, would cause death or permanent injury. The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years imprisonment.
Related Offences – Wounding and Malicious Act
As well as the three core assault offences that have been discussed, there are further offences that are also serious and that proscribe violent behaviour. For instance, the offence of Wounding covers assaults that break or penetrate the skin and is therefore often associated with knife-related crime. Just like AOBH, it carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.
Moreover, the offence of Acts Intending to Cause Grievous Bodily Harm and other Malicious Acts is covered in Section 317 of the Code and encompasses a range of violent behaviour. It stipulates that any person who causes grievous bodily harm, unlawfully wounds someone, or transmits a serious disease, is guilty of a crime and is liable to life imprisonment, in circumstances where they intended to disfigure or maim someone, cause grievous bodily harm to someone, or prevent an officer from carrying on their lawful duty. This offence is complex, and specifically covers particular types of violent conduct, such as the use of explosives or corrosive fluids.
Given the serious and complex nature of these offences, and the steep penalties that may be imposed, it is crucial that you seek out legal advice urgently if you are charged with any offence relating to violence or assaults, or if the police wish to speak to you in relation to the same. As the response to these crimes continues to tighten, a lawyer can help you obtain the best outcome possible if you need to respond to any allegations.
Defend Your Rights with Expert Counsel
At Beavon Lawyers, our team focuses on criminal law, and we help clients respond to assault charges at courts all across Queensland. If you have been charged with any offence, contact the criminal defence lawyers at Beavon Lawyers immediately for some free initial advice, and to discuss how an assault lawyer from our team can assist with your matter. Call 1800 558 533 or reach out to us online today and request a free consultation.