Law on Common Assault in NSW


It is reported that at around 9:40pm on 13 November, an un-identified man wearing hi-visibility clothes has thrown a bag of poo at a bus driver in Melbourne.

The faeces went all over the bus driver’s face, including his eye.

Reports reveal that the attack occurred when the bus driver had come to a stop to drop off a passenger on Harvest Home Rd, Greenfields Dr in Wollert just after 9:30pm. As the un-identified high-visibility clothed man stepped into the bus, he threw the bag full of faeces at the unsuspecting bus driver before legging it.

Police officer, acting Sergeant Todd Little has said, “Obviously, the faeces has gone all over the driver.”

“It is quite runny so it has splattered throughout the driver compartment of the vehicle and it has gone onto the driver’s face and into his eye.”

The poo has made contact and spread onto the driver’ compartment.

The un-identified man has been captured on footage and is described as aged in his 30-40’s with a beard, Caucasian, wearing a yellow high-visibility top with a hoody over his head.

The footage also depicts the man to be wearing dark pants with a white stripe down each leg.

Sergeant Little said, “it is an absolutely disgusting act and we are doing our best to identify the male and hold him to account.”

Meanwhile, the bus driver has since been treated and continues to receive psychological and medical assistance.

Police are asking for anyone who may have information to identify the man to contact Crime Stoppers.

Have a question on common assault laws?

Our specialist criminal defence lawyers from Sydney provide a free first case discussion.

We’re available 24/7 on (02) 8606 2218.

Law on Common Assault in NSW

The law treats common assault very seriously resulting in heavy maximum penalties in NSW.

While there are various kinds of assault charges under the law, common assault is amongst the least serious of assaults.

What is ‘common assault’? Common assault in NSW involves either an intentional or reckless act on another person which causes that other person to feel either a fear of immediate and unlawful violence or force.

While common assault can occur without the use of any physical force, it is more serious where force is applied on the victim.

So, what does reckless here mean? To recklessly cause another person unlawful force means to do an act that causes the unlawful force with the realisation at the time that it will.

To recklessly cause another person to fear immediate and unlawful violence without any physical force being applied, means to commit an act that causes this with the realisation at the time that it might cause this.

The maximum penalty for committing a common assault in NSW carries up to 2-years prison and/or up to a fine of $5,500 according to section 61 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

The penalties are harsher if a common assault occurs in context of a domestic relationship, such as husband and wife, partners, siblings etc.

The law in NSW requires courts to consider imposing full-time prison if a common assault occurs in the context of a domestic relationship.

The court is given discretion to not impose a full-time prison sentence to an offender in such a situation, but in doing so, the court is required then to impose at least a further condition of supervision, according to section 4A Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW).

This discretion gives the court an option to still allow the offender the opportunity to receive a section 10 non-conviction penalty even after pleading guilty to a common assault offence.

What is the prosecution required to prove for a common assault charge in NSW? Before an accused person who is charged with common assault can be found guilty in court, the court is required to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt as to each of the following elements of this crime:

  1. The accused person committed an act without consent, causing the alleged victim the fear or immediate and unlawful violence or caused unlawful physical force.
  2. The accused person did this recklessly or intentionally.

It is the prosecution’s role in court to prove each of the above elements in court. If any one of those elements are not proven, the accused will be found ‘not guilty’ and acquitted of the charge.

Click here for details on the defences to a common assault charge in NSW.

Our assault lawyer Sydney team are happy to help if you have any questions arising from this article.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

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