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Wounding is a charge carrying a maximum five-year prison term that is found as part of the suite of Offences Against the Person in the Crimes Act 1900. Unlike NSW, the ACT retains a simple wounding charge, rather than separate charges, with various gradations of seriousness, of wounding or grievous bodily harm with intent, and reckless grievous bodily harm or wounding. Depending on the particular charge, the NSW offences carry maximum penalties of 7, 10, 14 and 25 years – all greater than the ACT penalty for “wounding”.

The Offence Of Wounding

Section 21 of the Act states:

“A person who intentionally wounds another person is guilty of an offence punishable, on conviction, by imprisonment for 5 years. However, for an aggravated offence against this section, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 7 years.”

In the ACT, aggravated offences in this section are offences against pregnant women, and are explained further at Section 48A of the Act.

What Actions Might Constitute Wounding?

This charge is often laid where someone has been cut or stabbed. The court must find that the accused intended to wound the other person. Punching, hitting, cutting or kicking another person causing the skin to break but not causing permanent or serious disfigurement might also lead to a charge of wounding.

What Is Wounding?

A wound is an injury involving the breaking or cutting of the interior layer of the skin (dermis). The breaking of the outer layer (epidermis) is not sufficient. Examples of a wound might include a split lip or a deep cut. Generally speaking, the seriousness of the offence – and so the potential penalty – will significantly depend upon the seriousness of the injury.

Will I Get A Criminal Record From A Wounding Charge?

Most probably. A criminal conviction will be recorded if you are found guilty unless the court is convinced that it should exercise its discretion not to convict you of the offence.

What The Police Must Prove

The prosecution must prove each of the following elements, beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • that you were the person who committed the relevant act;
  • that you intended to wound the other person;
  • that the other person’s injury involved the breaking or cutting of the interior layer of the skin (dermis).

Possible Defences For Reckless Wounding

A person charged with this offence may argue in their defence that they were acting in self-defence or in defence of another person.

Which Court Will Hear my Matter?

As wounding carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, the Prosecution can elect (within a specific timeframe) for your matter to be kept in the Magistrates Court, where the maximum penalty that can be imposed is two years’ jail.

If the Prosecution does not make that election, the Defence is still able to “consent to the jurisdiction” of the Magistrates Court but may choose instead to have the matter heard in the Supreme Court. This course provides for a contested matter to be decided by a jury.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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