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Intentionally Causing Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)

In Queensland, intentionally causing Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) is a serious criminal offence carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

A charge of intentionally causing GBH will ordinarily result in a custodial sentence with a period of time spent inside a jail, though this is not inevitable and Armstrong Legal’s specialist criminal law team stand ready to advise you on the ways that you might avoid jail if you have been charged.


The offence of intentionally causing GBH is contained in section 317 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 which states:

“Any person who, with intent—

  1. (a) to maim, disfigure or disable, any person; or
  2. (b) to do some grievous bodily harm or transmit a serious disease to any person; or
  3. (c) to resist or prevent the lawful arrest or detention of any person; or
  4. (d) to resist or prevent a public officer from acting in accordance with lawful authority —

either —

  1. (e) in any way unlawfully wounds, does grievous bodily harm, or transmits a serious disease to, any person; or
  2. (f) unlawfully strikes, or attempts in any way to strike, any person with any kind of projectile or anything else capable of achieving the intention; or
  3. (g) unlawfully causes any explosive substance to explode; or
  4. (h) sends or delivers any explosive substance or other dangerous or noxious thing to any person; or
  5. (i) causes any such substance or thing to be taken or received by any person; or
  6. (j) puts any corrosive fluid or any destructive or explosive substance in any place; or
  7. k) unlawfully casts or throws any such fluid or substance at or upon any person, or otherwise applies any such fluid or substance to the person of any person;

is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for life.”

What is Grievous Bodily Harm?

Section 1 of the Act says that grievous bodily harm means:

  1. (a) the loss of a distinct part or an organ of the body; or
  2. (b) serious disfigurement; or
  3. (c) any bodily injury of such a nature that, if left untreated, would endanger or be likely to endanger life, or cause or be likely to cause permanent injury to health.

What The Police Must Prove

To convict you of an intentionally causing GBH, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. you did one of the things mentioned in subsections 317(e)-(k); and
  2. you did so with the intent to do, or cause, one of the things mentioned in subsections 317(a)-(d).

If it cannot be proved that you intentionally caused a result (most commonly serious bodily injury) you might still be guilty of the crime of unlawfully doing Grievous Bodily Harm.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

A charge of unlawfully doing GBH will be heard in the District Court.

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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