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Reckless wounding

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

In NSW, reckless wounding carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment. Where the offence is committed in company with another person, the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment. Individuals are charged where a person wounds another person causing actual bodily harm but does not cause an injury amounting to grievous bodily harm.

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a reckless wounding charge.

THE OFFENCE OF RECKLESS WOUNDING:

The offence of Reckless Wounding is found in section 35(4) of the Crimes Act 1900 which states:

A person who:

  • wounds any person, and
  • is reckless as to causing actual bodily harm to that or any other person, is guilty of an offence.

Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 7 years.

THE OFFENCE OF RECKLESS WOUNDING - IN COMPANY:

The offence of Reckless Wounding in Company is found in section 35(3) of the Crimes Act 1900 which states:

A person who, in the company of another person or persons:

  • wounds any person, and
  • is reckless as to causing actual bodily harm to that or any other person, is guilty of an offence.

Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.

WHAT ACTIONS MIGHT CONSTITUTE "RECKLESS WOUNDING"?

  • This offence is often charged where someone has been cut or stabbed.
  • The act of inflicting the wound must be reckless, meaning that the injury was a probable consequence of the defendant’s actions.
  • If the offence is committed in company, this means that it will have been committed with another person or persons present.
  • Therefore, punching, hitting, cutting or kicking another person causing the skin to break but not causing permanent or serious disfigurement might well lead to a charge of Reckless Wounding.

WHAT IS 'WOUNDING'?

  • A wound is an injury involving the breaking or cutting of the interior layer of the skin (dermis) and 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 will significantly depend upon the seriousness of the wounding.

WHAT DOES 'RECKLESS' MEAN?

  • The Crimes Act does not define recklessness.
  • Where the charge refers to the harm inflicted as grievous bodily harm, the Crown must prove that the accused at least foresaw the possibility of the infliction of grievous bodily harm resulting from his or her intentional act: Blackwell v R (2011) 208 A Crim R 392.
  • Similarly, in the case of the reckless infliction of actual bodily harm or reckless wounding, the Crown must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused foresaw the possibility of that particular type of harm resulting: Chen v R [2013] NSWCCA 116 at [65].

WHAT IS 'ACTUAL BODILY HARM'?

  • Whilst the slightest touch might constitute an ‘assault’ in the basic sense of the word, the Police will generally not charge a person unless there is a significant degree of force applied.
  • Case law says that the injury does not need to be permenant, but "must be more than merely transient or trifling."

WILL I GET A CRIMINAL RECORD FROM A RECKLESS WOUNDING CHARGE?

Yes. A criminal conviction is very likely unless the Court is convinced that they should exercise their discretion not to convict you of the offence.

WHAT ACTIONS MIGHT CONSTITUTE "RECKLESS WOUNDING"?

  • This offence is often charged where someone has been cut or stabbed.
  • The act of inflicting the wound must be reckless.
  • Therefore, punching, hitting, cutting or kicking another person causing the skin to break but not causing permanent or serious disfigurement might well lead to a charge of Reckless Wounding.

CAN I PAY A GREATER FINE TO AVOID BEING CONVICTED?

No, it is not possible to bargain with the court that you would pay a larger fine to avoid a criminal conviction. If the court deals with you under section 10 there will be no fine, but there may be court costs (normally less than $80).

WHICH COURT WILL HEAR YOUR MATTER?

Reckless wounding is a Table 1 offence and is to be dealt with by the Local Court, unless you or the prosecution elect for the matter to be heard in the District Court on indictment. The summary disposal of these offences in the Local Court carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

WHAT THE POLICE MUST PROVE

To convict you of Reckless Wounding, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You wounded a person.
  • The act was done recklessly as to causing actual bodily harm - to prove a wounding offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that, at the time of the wounding, the accused realised some physical harm may be caused and the actions were still taken and injury to a requisite level was caused.

POSSIBLE DEFENCES FOR RECKLESS WOUNDING

Possible defences to a reckless wounding charge include but are not limited to:

THE CONSEQUENCES OF A CONVICTION

The consequences of a conviction can be serious depending upon what you do for a living. Some jobs require you to have no criminal convictions and a conviction for reckless wounding might jeopardise your job or make it difficult to obtain visas for overseas travel. Moreover a conviction for an offence of violence can completely rule out certain career paths such as teaching and a range of government employment options. Violent offences may also result in sentences that include imprisonment even where an individual has no previous convictions.

Such offences can be complicated if there are aggravating factors. It is important to get legal advice at an early stage to ascertain precisely what the consequences of a conviction may be and whether you have a defence to the charge. It is very important that you obtain legal advice before you take part in any police record of interview.


Types of penalties:

Jail for a reckless wounding charge: This is the most serious penalty for a reckless wounding charge and involves full time detention in a correctional facility. Read more.

Home Detention for a reckless wounding charge: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 as a standalone order but may be imposed as a condition of an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO). Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.

Intensive corrections order for a reckless wounding charge (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.

Suspended sentence for a reckless wounding charge: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018. This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.

Community service order for a reckless wounding charge. (CSO): As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.

Good behaviour bond for a reckless wounding charge: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.

Community Corrections Orders (CCO): A CCO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the Community Corrections Orders (CCO). Additional conditions may be imposed at the discretion of the court, both at the time of sentence and subsequently upon application by a community corrections officer, juvenile justice officer or the offender. Read more.

Fines for a reckless wounding charge: When deciding the amount of a fine for a reckless wounding charge the magistrate or judge should consider your financial situation and your ability to pay any fine they set. Read more.

Section 10A: A section 10A is a conviction, with no other penalty attached to it. Read more.

Conditional Release Order (CRO): A CRO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the CRO. Read more.

Section 10 for a reckless wounding charge: avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.


where to next?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

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