Criminal Offences

Recklessly Causing Grievous Bodily Harm

In accordance to Section 35 of the Crimes Act 1900, a person who causes grievous bodily harm to another person and does so in a reckless manner is guilty of a criminal offence. Differing from assault occasioning actual bodily harm, the offence of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm typically results in more serious injuries and potentially permanent damage to another individual.

In fact, the Crimes Act 1900 defines various ways in which a person may be charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm. These are as followed:

  1. Reckless grievous bodily harm—in company: A person who, in the company of another person or persons:
    1. Causes grievous bodily harm to any person, and
    2. Is reckless as to causing actual bodily harm to that or any other person,

    is guilty of an offence in which the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 14 years.

  2. Reckless grievous bodily harm: A person who:
    1. Causes grievous bodily harm to any person, and
    2. Is reckless as to causing actual bodily harm to that or any other person,

    is guilty of an offence in which the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 10 years.

  3. Reckless wounding—in company: A person who, in the company of another person or persons:
    1. Wounds any person
    2. Is reckless as to causing actual bodily harm to that or any other person,

    is guilty of an offence in which the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 10 years.

  4. Reckless wounding – A person who:
    1. Wounds any person, and
    2. Is reckless as to causing actual bodily harm to that or any other person,

    is guilty of an offence in which the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 7 years.

It is also important to understand that as per section 35 of the Crimes Act 1900, an alternative verdict may be imposed. Subsection 5 states that:

If on the trial a person charged with an offence against any subsection of the section the jury is not satisfied that the offence is proven but is satisfied that the person has committed an offence against any other subsection of this section (that carries a lesser maximum penalty), the jury may acquit the person of the offence charged and find the person guilty of an offence against that other subsection. The person is liable to punishment accordingly.

It Is also important to understand what the court defines as reckless. The judiciary system defines reckless as less serious than intentional, however, there is the understanding that the offender’s actions would cause grievous bodily harm. For example, a forceful punch is likely to inflict damage of some sort onto another individual, and thus the actions would be defined as reckless. As a result, it is easier for the prosecution to prove that particular actions are reckless. In fact, this charge was previously referred to as malicious infliction of grievous bodily harm. However, the Crimes Act was changed from malicious to reckless as malice is more difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt.

Due to the ability for a prosecution team to prove reckless actions that have resulted in grievous bodily harm and the serious nature of this offence, it is best to contact our experienced Sydney based assault lawyers for the best possible advice.

PENALTIES

More serious than common assault charges or assault occasioning actual bodily harm, recklessly causing grievous bodily harm is classified as a table 1 offence, with significant penalties if dealt with in a District Court. The maximum penalty for recklessly causing grievous bodily harm is 10 years imprisonment, or 14 years if the act was committed with company present. However, if the matter is dealt with a Local Court, the maximum penalty that a guilty individual of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm is liable for is 2 years imprisonment.

However, with representation by our Sydney based criminal defence lawyers at Benjamin Leonardo, a less significant penalty may be possible. After assessing personal circumstances, previous criminal history and the nature of the offence, the Court may use their discretion to award less serious penalties such as community service, fines, intensive correction orders or home detention.

In certain circumstances, with the help of our leading criminal defence lawyers, some individuals may also have the matter dealt with by a section 10 dismissal in which no conviction is recorded. Penalties will also not be enforced, but the Court may apply specific conditions that the individual will have to adhere to, otherwise, the privilege could be revoked.

If you or someone you know has been charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, it is best to seek legal representation from our expert criminal defence lawyers at Benjamin Leonardo.

We offer FREE first consultation to help determine the most relevant penalties that may apply the case and any defence strategies that may be suitable for you.

GUILTY

In order to be found guilty of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, the Police must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you, in fact, did cause grievous bodily harm to another individual and that the act was done in a reckless manner. Depending on the circumstances, the police must also prove that other individuals were present at the time of the crime in order to be successfully convicted with the harsher penalties relating to recklessly causing grievous bodily harm in company.

During your case, you will have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. If you choose to agree with the allegations set out against you, which states that you are guilty of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm and you enter a guilty plea, it is likely that you will be convicted with one of the above penalties.

However, pleading guilty is also seen in a favourable manner by the judiciary system. Individuals who do so often show remorse for their actions, in which the Court will often impose less serious penalties in comparison to being found guilty otherwise. Individuals who do so may only be subject to fines, community service orders or even be dealt with by a section 10 dismissal, all of which do not have significant impacts on an individual’s ability to work or participate in their daily activities.

At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we are some of the best criminal lawyers in Sydney, winning multiple awards and cases in Courts around Australia.

If you or someone you know is facing charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, please do not hesitate to schedule a FREE consultation with our expert criminal defence lawyers in order to effectively assess your case and accurately advise you on the penalties that you may face.

NOT GUILTY

Alternatively, you may choose to plead not guilty, in which your case will then proceed to trial. In this instance, the Police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did commit the offence as stated in section 35 of the Crimes Act 1900. If the Police are able to successfully prove the allegations, you may be convicted with the penalties listed above.

For your best chance to avoid harsh penalties, it is advised to seek legal representation from expert criminal defence lawyers. At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we are a highly experienced Sydney based criminal defence law firm and have successfully represented many criminal cases. Should we represent you, our dedicated criminal lawyers will negate the claims against you, possibly by using any of the following defences.

If successful, the Court may completely dismiss the charges in which you will no longer be facing the penalties stipulated by the Crimes Act 1900. In other instances, our defence strategies may result in a less serious sentence or a downgraded charge with less severe penalties which are both favourable outcomes in comparison to the maximum imprisonment term of 10 years.

For relevant advice in relation to whether you should plead guilty or not guilty, please do not hesitate to contact our Sydney based criminal law firm for a FREE consultation.

THE DEFENCE

At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we are experienced Sydney based assault lawyers with years of experience defending clients in relation to charges such as recklessly causing grievous bodily harm. Some of the criminal defences that may be used to dismiss a guilty verdict include:

Duress: Involves the use of dangerous threats to pressure an individual to participate in an activity that they would be unlikely to participate in. Examples of such threats that may justify such behaviour could include death threats or warnings of grievous bodily harm. The accused must firmly believe that if they did not commit the offence that the threat would have taken place.

Necessity: Often confused with duress, necessity occurs in situations where imminent danger by human or natural forces resulted in the accused to undertake the criminal offence. In order to this defence to be used by yourself or a criminal defence lawyer, it must be proven that the reckless grievous bodily harm was undertaken in order to avoid consequences that are seen as “irreparable evil”. The accused must also genuinely believe that they were in a situation of “imminent peril” and had no other alternatives to avoid the threat, and thus partaking in the criminal act is justified.

Self-Defence: Situations in which actions were taken to defend confrontations and harm by an unjust aggressor may constitute self-defence. Self-defence occurs in circumstances in which the accused aims to protect property, themselves or another person from harm by the aggressor.

WHICH COURT?

As a table 1 offence, recklessly causing grievous bodily harm may be dealt with at the District Court. However, it is not uncommon for the majority of these cases to be heard at the Local Court where less severe penalties apply.

Although our criminal defence lawyers are based in Parramatta and the Sydney CBD, we have extensive experience in defending various criminal cases all over NSW, including charges relating to recklessly causing grievous bodily harm. Therefore, we are able to effectively represent our clients in Local, District and Supreme Courts and can advise you on in relation to what to expect at each.