There’s been an enormous amount of publicity in recent times about so-called king hits.
Others have called them coward punches.
Whereby one person walks up to another, punches that person, causing that other person to die or sustain a serious injury.
Now the media reporting into these types of incidents has led the current New South Wales Government to propose a new sentencing regime.
Introducing a mandatory minimum sentence.
Introducing increased maximum sentences.
But what’s the current law?
The current law is if a victim dies the alleged offender can be charged with murder, which of course attracts a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
It’s under Section 18 of the NSW Crimes Act and a person can be charged with murder if they show a reckless indifference to human life, or an intent to cause grievous bodily harm or to kill, and their actions or their omissions even led another person to die.
Now if they are not convicted of murder they can be convicted of something called manslaughter, and manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.
It’s under sections 18 and 24 of the Crimes Act ,and every other punishable homicide other than murder is classed as a manslaughter.
If the victim survives the alleged offender can be charged with wounding or causing grievous bodily harm with intent, and that’s under section 33 of the crimes act.
That carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.
It also carries what’s called a standard non-parole period, that means that if a person is convicted of that offence they are supposed to go to jail for seven years, unless there’s good reasons to reduce that.
It’s also what’s called a strictly indictable offence, which means it cannot be dealt within the local court, it must be dealt with in a higher court, such as the district or the Supreme Court.
But in order to be found guilty under section 33 the prosecution must prove an intention to wound or cause grievous bodily harm.
So they must prove that beyond reasonable doubt that you intended to commit that type of a harm.
Now wounding is defined as any breaking through both layers of the skin, and grievous bodily harm is defined as harm of a very serious kind.
Now a prosecution can alternatively charge someone with what’s called recklessly wound or cause grievous bodily harm.
That’s under section 35 of the crimes act, that carries a maximum period of imprisonment of seven years for a wounding, or 10 years for grievous bodily harm.
That’s a type of offence that can be dealt within the local court, so an election can be made by the DPP, that is the prosecution to take it to the district court, but it can also stay in the local court.
If it does stay in the local court the maximum sentence is two years imprisonment.
Recklessness means the foresight of possibility of physical harm.
So in order to find you guilty under section 35 the prosecution must prove that you had some force, so you knew that was likely or possible that this type of harm could be inflicted on the victim when you committed the offence.
Now if you are charged with one of these serious offences I think it is important to go to an experienced criminal defence firm that has a proven track record in these types of cases.
Go on their website, have a look at their track record, have a look at their case studies, and make sure that they have a good track record of getting assault cases dropped.
That’s very important to be able to get cases dropped at an early stage, that they also have a proven track record in getting charges reduced.
So for example if you’re charged under section 33, which is a very serious charge getting that charge dropped on the basis that you plead guilty to a less serious charge, for example assault occasioning actual bodily harm, which can carry a much less serious penalty at the end, also have a look at their record of winning assault trials in the district court and hearings in the local court, and pick the right law firm that can help you in this type of the case.
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