Realist Law - Criminal Lawyers Brisbane

I found a very useful content in Queensland Court’s website. You can read it HERE

What is Grievous Bodily Harm and Common Assault

Criminal Code 1899 (Qld) stats,

Grievous bodily harm

According to Definitions of Section 1

“grievous bodily harm” means—

(a) the loss of a distinct part or an organ of the body; or

(b) serious disfigurement; or

(c) any bodily injury of such a nature that, if left untreated, would endanger or be likely to endanger life, or cause or be likely to cause permanent injury to health;

Section 320 Grievous bodily harm

(1) Any person who unlawfully does grievous bodily harm to another is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.

(3A) The Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 sections 108B and 161Q state a circumstance of aggravation for an offence against this section.

(4) An indictment charging an offence against this section with the circumstance of aggravation stated in the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 section 161Q may not be presented without the consent of a Crown Law Officer.


Section 245 states,

(1) A person who strikes, touches, or moves, or otherwise applies force of any kind to, the person of another, either directly or indirectly, without the other person’s consent, or with the other person’s consent if the consent is obtained by fraud, or who by any bodily act or gesture attempts or threatens to apply force of any kind to the person of another without the other person’s consent, under such circumstances that the person making the attempt or threat has actually or apparently a present ability to effect the person’s purpose, is said to assault that other person, and the act is called an
“assault” .

(2) In this section—

“applies force” includes the case of applying heat, light, electrical force, gas, odour, or any other substance or thing whatever if applied in such a degree as to cause injury or personal discomfort.

For example, if you have threatened someone holding a pencil in your hand that you would hurt him with the pencil, that could constitute an Assault. So, you can be charged for Assault without even touching the other person. 

Section 348 of Criminal Code states about what is consent.

So, you may think that this is how it goes, first prosecution requires to prove that there were assault and that the it was an act by the defendant,  then they need to prove that the assault was so serious that it mounts to grievous bodily harm. If you can defend the assault charge, then there may not need to defend grievous bodily harm charge. It is not true. A grievous bodily harm charge can be successful without assault charges at all. 

Grievous bodily harm largely depends on medical evidence which is difficult to defend but not a straight forward or black and white issue. There are to defence of provocation for grievous bodily harm. 

Possible Defence to Assault Charges 

The most common defence to assault charges is denying that you have ever did any act which would constitute an Assault. If you believe that there are no proof which means it is not possible to find you guilty, that could be a wrong expectation. 

The other common defence is provocation. Section 269 of Criminal Code states, 

269 Defence of provocation

(1) A person is not criminally responsible for an assault committed upon a person who gives the person provocation for the assault, if the person is in fact deprived by the provocation of the power of self-control, and acts upon it on the sudden and before there is time for the person’s passion to cool, and if the force used is not disproportionate to the provocation and is not intended, and is not such as is likely, to cause death or grievous bodily harm.

(2) Whether any particular act or insult is such as to be likely to deprive an ordinary person of the power of self-control and to induce the ordinary person to assault the person by whom the act or insult is done or offered, and whether, in any particular case, the person provoked was actually deprived by the provocation of the power of self-control, and whether any force used is or is not disproportionate to the provocation, are questions of fact.

The challenge is that the anus or responsibility to prove provocation is lies on defendant. So, if you were charged with Assault and you believe you were provoked, then you need prove that with evidence. Proving provocation of not easy, it requires research on large amount of case laws to understand if your version of story is strong enough to prove provocation. 

Need Legal Advice?

You may have arguable defence to challenge your charges but it might be best if you seek legal advice before that. This article contains only the crux, there are more important information you need to know if you proceed to challenge. Failing to prove your point in the court may result harsher sentence and will have to pay Offender Levy.


I am not an admitted lawyer. These contents are simply what I have learned during my work experience duty and through study. Please DO NOT consider any of my content as advice.