Assaults & Bullying
What is assault?
A person can be charged with assault in Queensland if they apply force to another without their consent, or they threaten to apply force to another person. The person charged must appear to have the ability to carry out the threat.
Therefore, you can be charged with assaulting a person even if you did not actually touch them, but you did move/act towards them in a way that would make them feel reasonably afraid of violence.
The more harm you cause a person when you assault them, the more serious the charge against you can be. For example,
- If you hit a person and they do not suffer injury you may be charged with ‘common assault’.
- If you hit a person and cause an injury, you may be charged with causing bodily harm.
- If you hit a person and they bleed, you may be charged with ‘wounding’.
- If you hit a person and you cause them, and you cause an injury that will not heal without medical help you can be charged with ‘grievous bodily harm’.
If someone hits me first, can I hit back to protect myself?
Yes, but you will have to be able to show that any force you used was needed to defend yourself or somebody else.
What is provocation?
Provocation is another type of justification for your actions if you have been charged with a type of assault. This can sometimes be used to show that, when you committed the assault, you had lost control of your senses and committed an act that is proportionate to the provocation. If the courts accept a defence of provocation in a case of assault then there will be no liability. In a case of murder, the charge will be reduced to manslaughter which has a lesser sentence.
There are other types of defences if you are charged with assault, and the agencies under ‘Who can help?’ will assist you with advice about your particular situation.
What can I do if someone is gate crashing at my house and I want them to leave?
There is a law in Queensland which allows an owner-occupier of a premises to use ‘reasonable force’ as is necessary to eject someone who is trespassing on the land.
You can only use as much force as is you reasonably believe is necessary to remove the person from the house - the courts have said that it is usually not necessary to use violence at all against someone who is trespassing, as you may have other options instead of fighting. The best course of action may be to warn the trespasser involved and to call the police to evict them lawfully.
Can I be charged if I agree to a fight?
Yes, you can. It is illegal to be in a fight in public. In some circumstances even if you agree to be in a fight, you may be charged if you injure somebody. This can include fights at school and fights at sporting activities.
What is bullying and can I get in trouble for it?
Bullying describes many different types of behaviour that is repeated to cause harm. Many of these actions may be illegal, including;
- if someone is threatened with assault
- if someone uses a phone or other electronic device to harass or menace
- if someone stalks another person (see below)
What is ‘unlawful stalking’?
‘Unlawful stalking’ happens when someone does any of the following things either over a long period of time, or on more than one occasion to another person:
- follows, loiters or watches someone or a place that the person goes to regularly
- contacts the person in any way (including using technology such as mobile phones or email)
- leaves or gives a person offensive material
- commits intimidating, harassing, or threatening acts against a person or their property (including threats of violence).
AND this behaviour causes the person fear and/or harm.
Who can help?
Duty Lawyer at Court
Youth Advocacy Centre (YAC)
Hub Community Legal
Logan Youth & Family Legal Service
Legal Aid Queensland
1300 651 188
Youth Legal Advice Hotline (Monday – Thursday 8am – 9pm; Friday 8am – Sunday 5pm)
1800 527 527
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (24hrs 7 days a week)
3025 3888 or (free call) 1800 012 255
Translating & Interpreting Services (24hrs)
Community Legal Centres (CLCs) see www.naclc.org.au for your nearest CLC
Alannah & Madeline Foundation
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This sheet is intended to provide general legal information about the law in Queensland. This information is not legal advice. If you have a particular legal problem you should contact a solicitor for legal advice. Below is a list of agencies that might be able to assist you, including legal agencies.
This sheet was last reviewed and updated in August 2021. The Youth Advocacy Centre does not accept responsibility for any action or outcome because of anyone relying on the information provided.
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If you need urgent assistance outside of these hours:
- Youth Legal Advice Hotline 1800 527 527 (Mon to Thurs 8am - 9pm, Friday 8am to Sunday 5pm)
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- Lifeline 13 11 14 (24/7, 365 days per year)
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- If you are over 18, and seeking access to Mental Health Services in Queensland, Acute Care Team on 1300 MHCALL (1300 64 2255).