Section 39, 41, 41A Crimes Act 1900| Poisoning


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There are a number of offences under the Crimes Act 1900 which deal with attempts to poison another person.

The penalties imposed for these offences vary according to the seriousness of your actions.

While being charged with a poisoning offence can result in harsh penalties under the law, our criminal law specialists can advise you of the steps to take when it comes to fighting the charges.

We will stand by you every step of the way and fight hard to protect your innocence.

Each of the sections under the Crimes Act 1900 which deal with poisoning are discussed briefly below.

Section 39 Crimes Act 1900 | Using poison to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm

Section 39 of the Crimes Act contains the most serious poisoning offence which accordingly attracts the harshest penalties.

It says that where you administer or cause another person to take a poison or intoxicating substance, which endangers their life or causes them to suffer grievous bodily harm, you could face a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment.

To be found guilty under this section, the prosecution must also prove that you intended to injure or were reckless about injuring the other person.

This means that where you were honestly and reasonably unaware that the substance was poisonous and you did not meant to cause the other person harm, you will not be found guilty under this section.

“Grievous bodily harm” is defined as “really serious harm,” such as a permanent and serious disfigurement – including internal organ damage.

Section 41 Crimes Act 1900 | Using Poison to Injure or Cause Distress or Pain

Section 41 of the Crimes Act says that it is an offence to administer poison or an intoxicating substance to another person with the intention to injure them or cause distress or pain.

This is a less serious charge than ‘using poison to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm’ under section 39, which applies in cases where ‘really serious harm’ is suffered by another person due to the poisoning.

Rather, section 41 deals with situations where a lesser degree of harm is suffered by the other person in the form of pain or distress.

In these cases, the maximum penalty if you are found guilty is 5 years imprisonment.

Section 41A Crimes Act 1900 | Poisoning of Water Supply

Finally, section 41A of the Crimes Act creates an offence for the poisoning of a water supply.

It deals with situations where you release any form of poison or noxious substance into a water supply (for example, a dam or water pipes) with the intention of causing harm to other persons.

In these situations, the maximum penalty is five years’ imprisonment.

While the maximum penalties for these offences can be harsh, it’s important to remember that the maximum will only apply in the most serious cases.

The actual penalty that you will receive will be determined by the magistrate or judge after considering all the facts and circumstances of your case.

It is therefore important to ensure that you have a reputable, highly experienced lawyer on your side who you can trust to put forth your case in the most positive light.

The Legislation

Sections 39, 41 and 41 of the Crimes Act 1900 deal with poisoning offences and read as follows:

39 Using poison etc to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if:

(a) the person administers to another person, or causes another person to take, any poison, intoxicating substance or other destructive or noxious thing, and

(b) the poison, intoxicating substance or other thing endangers the life of, or inflicts  grievous bodily harm on, the other person, and

(c) the person intends to injure, or is reckless about injuring, the other person.

Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.

(2) If on the trial of a person charged with an offence against this section the jury is not satisfied that the offence is proven but is satisfied that the person has committed an offence against section 41 or 41A, the jury may acquit the person of the offence charged and find the person guilty of an offence against section 41 or 41A. The person is liable to punishment accordingly.

41 Using poison etc to injure or to cause distress or pain

A person is guilty of an offence if:

(a) the person administers to another person, or causes another person to take, any poison, intoxicating substance or other destructive or noxious thing, and

(b) the person intends to injure, or to cause distress or pain to, the other person.

Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 5 years.

41A Poisoning etc of water supply

A person is guilty of an offence if:

(a) the person introduces any poison or other destructive or noxious thing into a supply of water, and

(b) the person intends to injure any person or persons.

Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 5 years.

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

At Sydney Criminal Lawyers, our team of expert advocates specialises in criminal law. This means that our clients benefit from our wealth of knowledge and experience in this complex field of law.

Our dedicated lawyers can assist you in obtaining the most lenient penalty possible in your poisoning case by making persuasive sentencing submissions which highlight all mitigating factors which reduce the seriousness of your actions.

Alternatively, if you wish to plead ‘not guilty,’ our criminal law specialists will ensure that you get the strongest possible defence against the charges.

We will work hard to identify any problems with the prosecution case, which, if raised early, can result in the charges against you being dropped.

If your matter cannot be resolved outside of court, our criminal law advocates will prepare a compelling case which supports your side of the story and raises all relevant evidence and defences to maximise your chances of being found ‘not guilty.’

For the best advice and representation in your poisoning matter, get Sydney’s best criminal lawyers on your side today.

Call us now on (02) 9261 8881 and book a FREE first conference to discuss your matter with one of our experts.