Causing Serious Injury Recklessly in Circumstances of Gross Violence

– section 15B of the Crimes Act 1958

causing serious injury recklessly gross violence
Causing Serious Injury recklessly in Circumstances of Gross Violence is used when someone seriously, but unintentionally, injures another person in one of several circumstances.

These include:

  1. When 2 or more people cause the injury; or
  2. When someone planned to use a weapon on the other person and used it; or
  3. The injury happened after the other person could no longer defend themselves; or
  4. When someone continued to attack the other person after they could no longer defend themselves.
Examples of Causing Serious Injury Recklessly in Circumstances of Gross Violence
  • 2 people blind another person in one eye in a fight at the football.
  • A person kicks another person in the head without realising the other person is unconscious, and causes the person permanent brain damage.
What are some of the possible defences to a Causing Serious Injury Intentionally in Circumstances of Gross Violence charge?
  • Someone else injured the other person.
  • Acting in self defence

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • How can they prove who caused the injury?
  • What actually happened in the fight?
Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is 15 years imprisonment.

If proven, this offence carries a mandatory non-parole period of 4 years (or 5 years if the victim is an emergency worker or custodial officer on duty), unless the court finds that a special reason exists.

This offence is heard in the higher courts.

“What really happened in the fight? “
Elements of Causing Serious Injury Recklessly in Circumstances of Gross Violence?

For an accused to be guilty of this offence, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. The complainant suffered a ‘serious injury’;
  2. The accused caused the complainant’s serious injury;
  3. The accused was reckless as to causing the serious injury;
  4. The serious injury was caused in circumstances of gross violence; and
  5. The accused did not have a lawful excuse for causing the serious injury.


 
Element 1: The complainant suffered a ‘serious injury’
A ‘serious injury’ is defined as:1

  1. an injury that
    1. Endangers life; or
    2. Is substantial and protracted; or
  2. The destruction, other than in the course of a medical procedure, of the foetus of a pregnant woman, whether or not the woman suffers any other harm.

An ‘injury’ is defined as a physical injury or harm to mental health. A physical injury means ‘unconsciousness, disfigurement, substantial pain, infection with a disease and impairment of a bodily function’.2 Harm to mental health means ‘psychological harm but does not include an emotional reaction such as distress, grief, fear or anger unless it results in psychological harm’.3

A serious injury may exist due to the cumulative effect of more than one injury.4

The prosecution will often rely on medical evidence to establish that an injury either endangered life or was substantial and protracted.

Element 2: The accused caused the complainant’s serious injury
The accused must have caused the complainant’s serious injury. This element will be satisfied even if the accused caused the serious injury indirectly.5

Element 3: The accused was reckless as to causing the serious injury
The accused must have been aware, when he or she behaved in a way that resulted in the complainant’s serious injury, that their conduct would probably cause a serious injury.6

It is insufficient for the accused to have been aware that a serious injury to the complainant might result from their actions.7

It is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that the accused acted recklessly in relation to the victim, so long as the accused acted recklessly in relation to risk of their behaviour causing serious injury to some person.8

Element 4: The serious injury was caused in circumstances of gross violence
Any of the following circumstances will be circumstances of gross violence:9

  1. the accused planned in advance to engage in conduct and at the time of planning—
    1. he or she intended that his or her conduct would cause a serious injury; or
    2. he or she was reckless as to whether his or her conduct would cause a serious injury; or
    3. a reasonable person would have foreseen that his or her conduct would be likely to result in a serious injury; or
  2. the offender:
    1. caused the serious injury while in the company of two or more other people;
    2. participated in a joint criminal enterprise with two or more other people in causing the serious injury;
    3. planned in advance to have an offensive weapon, firearm or imitation firearm with them and to use it, and did in fact use that object to cause the serious injury;
    4. continued to cause injury to the other person after that person was incapacitated; or
    5. caused the serious injury to the other person while that person was incapacitated.

Element 5: The accused did not have a lawful excuse
The prosecution must disprove any defences the accused seeks to rely on, such as self-defence.

Legislation

The section that covers this offence is section 15B of the Crimes Act 1958.1
 
prison penalty sentencing

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

Causing Serious Injury in Circumstances of Gross Violence has a mandatory minimum goal term of 4 years. The most serious offences will mean a longer gaol term.

Other Important Resources

 



[1] Crimes Act 1958 s 15
[2] Crimes Act 1958 s 15
[3] Crimes Act 1958 s 15
[4] Crimes Act 1958 s 15
[5] R v Sailsbury [1976] VR 452
[6] R v Crabbe (1985) 156 CLR 464
[7] R v Crabbe (1985) 156 CLR 464; R v Campbell [1997] 2 VR 585
[8] La Fontaine v R (1976) 136 CLR 62; R v Bacash [1981] VR 923
[9] Crimes Act 1958 s 15B(2)