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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

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...

Unlawfully Doing Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)


The offence of Unlawfully Doing Grievous Bodily Harm is contained in section 320 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 which states:

  1. “(1) Any person who unlawfully does grievous bodily harm to another is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.
  2. (2) If the offender is a participant in a criminal organisation and unlawfully does grievous bodily harm to a police officer while acting in the execution of the officer’s duty, the offender must be imprisoned for a minimum of 1 year with the imprisonment served wholly in a corrective services facility.”

In Queensland, unlawfully doing Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) is a very serious criminal offence carrying a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment. It will ordinarily result in  time in 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.

What Is Grievous Bodily Harm?

Section 1 of the Act states grievous bodily harm means:

  • the loss of a distinct part or an organ of the body; or
  • serious disfigurement; or
  • 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 Is A Criminal Organisation?

Section 1 of the Act states criminal organisation means:

  1. “(a) an organisation of 3 or more persons—
    1. (i) who have as their purpose, or 1 of their purposes, engaging in, organising, planning, facilitating, supporting, or otherwise conspiring to engage in, serious criminal activity as defined under the Criminal Organisation Act 2009; and
    2. (ii) who, by their association, represent an unacceptable risk to the safety, welfare or order of the community; or
  2. (b) a criminal organisation under the Criminal Organisation Act 2009; or
  3. (c) an entity declared under a regulation to be a criminal organisation.”

What the Police Must Prove

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

  • you caused grievous bodily harm (of the kind described in the definition above), and
  • you did so unlawfully, that is to say without a lawful excuse.

If it can be proved that you intentionally caused the grievous bodily harm (rather than that you simply caused it without lawful excuse) you will likely be guilty of the crime of intentionally causing GBH which is a more serious offence.

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.

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