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Causing Grievous Bodily Harm

Causing Grievous Bodily Harm is an offence under Section 54 of the Crimes Act 1900, which carries a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You caused grievous bodily harm to another person, and
  2. You did so by an unlawful or negligent act or omission

‘Grievous Bodily Harm’ has been defined as ‘really serious harm’, it includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Any permanent or serious disfigurement
  2. The destruction of a foetus, other than by a medical procedure, or
  3. Any grievous bodily disease

The terms ‘unlawful’ and ‘negligent’ are not defined by the legislation. However, the courts have found that an unlawful act must be a “dangerous act”, and that a ‘negligent act’ is one that exhibits “such a high degree of disregard for the life and safety of others as to be regarded as a crime against the community generally”. This is a higher test than that which applies to traffic offences, such as negligent driving.

Defences to the charge include:

  1. Self-defence
  2. Duress, and
  3. Necessity

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