This article was written by Kristen Moore - Managing Associate- Werribee

Kristen holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science and Sociology) from Victoria University. She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Australian National University. Kristen is admitted as a solicitor in the Supreme Court of Victoria and the High Court of Australia. Following admission to practice, Kristen worked exclusively in the areas...

Causing Injury Intentionally or Recklessly (Vic)

In Victoria, the charges of causing injury intentionally or recklessly are governed by section 18 of the Crimes Act 1958.  Whilst both charges fall within the same section of the legislation, they are considered separate offences.

The difference between the charge of recklessly causing injury and intentionally causing injury is distinguished by the circumstances of the offending. The maximum penalty in circumstances where injury has been caused recklessly is 5 years, while the maximum penalty in circumstances where injury has been caused intentionally is 10 years.

The type of injury sustained and/or the circumstances in which the injury occurred will affect the penalty given by the court. These charges can result in a custodial sentence, though this is not inevitable.

The Offence

Section 18 of the Crimes Act 1958 states that;

A person who, without lawful excuse, intentionally or recklessly causes injury to another person is guilty of an indictable offence.


The Prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt to substantiate the charge of recklessly causing injury;

  1. That the complainant suffered an “injury”,
  2. That the accused caused the injury,
  3. That the accused was reckless about causing injury, and
  4. That the accused acted without lawful justification or excuse.

Recklessness is defined to include the accused having been aware, when they committed the relevant conduct, that it would probably cause injury or that injury was probable or likely.


The prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt to substantiate the charge of intentionally causing injury;

  1. The complainant suffered an “injury”
  2. The accused caused the complainant’s injury;
  3. The accused intended to cause injury; and
  4. The accused acted without lawful justification or excuse.

Intention is this regard is defined as meaning that the accused must have intended to inflict injury generally rather than a specific injury)

What is an injury?

Section 15 of the Crimes Act 1958 provides that injury means physical injury (further defined to include: unconsciousness, disfigurement, substantial pain, infection with a disease and an impairment of bodily function), or harm to mental health.

Injury also includes psychological harm but does not include stress, grief, fear or anger unless it results in psychological harm.

The injury can be temporary or permanent.

Possible Defences

  1. That the accused acted in self-defence or defence of another,
  2. That the accused did not act recklessly or intentionally (as per the relevant charge).

Which court will hear the matter?

The offences of recklessly or intentionally causing injury will usually be heard in the Magistrates Court (if the accused consents to the Magistrates’ Court jurisdiction). Alternatively, the charge can be heard in the County Court of Victoria; however, this is less likely and would be dependant on the circumstances.

Offences against Emergency Workers, Custodial Officers and Youth Justice Custodial Workers on duty

If a person commits an offence of recklessly or intentionally causing injury and the complainant is an emergency worker, custodial officer or youth justice custodial worker on duty, the law dictates that the offender must serve a mandatory term of imprisonment unless the court is satisfied under section 10A of the Sentencing Act 1991, that a special reason exists.

A ‘special reason’’ can include a range of factors and it is important that if you are charged with this offence that you obtain suitable legal representation from a lawyer that has proven success in arguing the existence of special circumstances. Our specialised Criminal Lawyers have proven success in arguing the existence of special circumstances and persuading the court against imposing the otherwise mandatory penalty.

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


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.


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