Differences Assault

Jan 25, 2023 | Difference

Monday, 14 November 2022

The differences between Section 23 (Summary Offences Act 1966) and Section 31 ( Crimes Act 1958).


  • Section 23: Common assault “Any person who unlawfully assaults or beats another person shall be guilty of an offence”.

Section 31: Assaults “1) A person who—

(a)     assaults or threatens to assault another person with intent to commit an indictable offence; or

2)     In subsection (1), “assault” means the direct or indirect application of force by a person to the body of, or to clothing or equipment worn by, another person where the application of force is—

(a)     without lawful excuse; and

(b)     with intent to inflict or being reckless as to the infliction of bodily injury, pain, discomfort, damage, insult or deprivation of liberty-and results in the infliction of any such consequence (whether or not the consequence inflicted is the consequence intended or foreseen).

Type of offence/Where it is heard

Section 23: Summary offences are dealt within the Magistrates Court, with a maximum penalty of 2 years that may be imposed ( on a single charge).

Section 31: An indictable offence is a more serious offence that also carry a higher maximum penalty. These are typically dealt with in the Supreme Court or the County Court. It is also important to note that some indictable offences can be heard summarily. Under s29 of the Criminal Procedure Act, a Magistrate may hear and determine and matter summarily if the court considers that the charge is appropriate to the determined summarily as set out is section 2.


Section 31: Level 6 imprisonment (5 years maximum).

Section 23: 15 penalty units or imprisonment for three months.

It is important to note that that the threshold regarding section 31 seems to be higher considering the elements that must be proven and higher penalty that could be potentially imposed.