Did this information help?
Provide your feedback so we can continue to improve the information on this page.
This information is provided to make the law and legal rights accessible.
The law is intended to serve everyone and it is important it does so.
Knowledge is, as always, power.
GRIEVOUS BODILY HARM
s320 Criminal Code 1899 makes it an offence to unlawfully cause grievous bodily harm.
What the prosecution must prove.
The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt:
1. A defendant committed an act.
2. The act caused grievous bodily harm.
3. The act was unlawful.
What it means.
The grievous bodily harm must be a direct result of the act.
Grievous bodily harm includes:
• An injury, that if untreated, endangers or is likely to endanger life or cause a permanent injury.
The availability or effectiveness of medical treatment is irrelevant. The issue is the effect of the injury if not treated. Likely means a substantial chance, a real and not remote chance; more than a mere possibility.
• The loss of a distinct part or organ of the body
It is not necessary for the prosecution to prove the loss endangered life or caused a permanent injury.
• Serious disfigurement
To disfigure is to do some external injury which detracts from personal appearance. The prosecution must prove more than a disfigurement. The test is whether the disfigurement has a serious undesirable or negative result on the person injured.
The available defences.
Self-defence and defence of another
The offence of Causing Grievous Bodily Harm can only be finalised before the District Court by trial or sentence.
Proceedings commence in the Magistrates Court.
The usual penalties.
The maximum penalty for the offence of Causing Grievous bodily Harm is 14 years imprisonment. The maximum penalty increases to 10 years imprisonment if a defendant used or threatened to use a weapon or was in the company of others when the offence was committed.
The maximum penalty is a poor numerical indicator of sentences usually imposed. It plays a very important role in setting the seriousness of an offence. The maximum penalty is hardly ever imposed.
A court must impose a community service order in addition to any other penalty if the offence was committed in a public place whilst intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. This only applies if these circumstances are expressly alleged in the wording of the charge and either admitted or proved beyond reasonable doubt.
The penalties for a first offence of this nature are significant and include sentences of fulltime imprisonment.
Factors that affect the appropriate penalty include the nature of the act or violence, and the extent of the injury.
It is important to seek expert advice before dealing with an offence of Causing Grievous Bodily Harm.