Withdrawing Recklessly Cause Injury and Assault Charges

This is a case study on withdrawing Recklessly Cause Injury and assault charges.

Recklessly Cause Injury is a serious offence, especially in the context of family violence where the victim is a female family member.

Section 15 of the Crimes Act 1958 defines an “injury” as –

  1. Harm to mental health; and
  2. Physical injury including unconsciousness, disfigurement, substantial pain, infection with a disease and an impairment of a bodily function.
This offence normally attracts an immediate prison sentence especially if the accused has relevant prior convictions. It is important to look at what the police allege is an “injury” because it may be that the prosecution cannot prove that the victim has suffered an injury. Typically, bruising and superficial cuts and grazes do not meet the threshold.
The police charged our client with Recklessly Cause Injury and Assault following an incident with his sister where it was alleged that he head-butted her and punched her multiple times.
 
We represented the client at the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court. The exact charges were:

It must be noted that we succeeded in withdrawing the Recklessly Cause Injury and assault charges in this case.

As with any matter, we first read the summary and obtained the client’s instructions about the allegations. The client could not recall the night at all because he was highly intoxicated. The striking thing that we noticed in the brief of evidence was that the police had not obtained a witness statement from the complaint or from other people who were at the scene when the client was alleged to have assaulted his sister. This prompted us to query – how do the police prove the charges?

We raised the issue with the magistrate at the mention hearing and asked for an order that the police obtain statements and serve them one week before the matter’s return at court for a contest mention hearing. But the police did not obtain statements from the victim or any of the witnesses before the contest mention hearing. We then convinced the prosecution to withdraw the charges on the basis that they did not have any statements and therefore could not prove the charges.

After lengthy discussions with the prosecution about the flaws in their case, all of the charges were formally struck out at court. Had the client been convicted of the offence, he would have undoubtedly received an immediate term of imprisonment. This was an excellent outcome for a case that involves withdrawing Recklessly Cause Injury and assault charges.
 
To establish Recklessly Cause Injury, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:

  • The complaint suffered an “injury”;
  • The accused caused the victim injury;
  • The accused was reckless about causing an injury; and
  • The accused acted without lawful justification or excuse.

DISCLAIMER: This is a real case study of an actual case from our files. Details pertaining to the client have been changed to protect their privacy. The sentence imposed and the charge have not been altered. These case studies are published to demonstrate real outcomes and give an indication of possible tariffs in Court. We do not guarantee a similar case on these charges will get the same result. Please note that we post results at our discretion, therefore while many case studies are average results, others are notable for their exceptional outcomes. PUBLISHED 24/04/2019