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Unlawful Wounding (WA)

In Western Australia, there are numerous offences that relate to causing injury to a person. These include wounding and similar acts, assault causing bodily harm and inflicting grievous bodily harm. This page deals with the offence of unlawful wounding in WA.


Unlawful wounding is contained in section 301 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913. It is punishable by a maximum penalty of imprisonment for five years. If the offence is aggravated, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for seven years.

Section 301 also includes causing poison to be taken or administered to a person with intent to injure or annoy.

What is wounding?

Unlawful wounding occurs when a person, without lawful excuse, breaks both layers of the skin of another person. This may be by inflicting a cut, burn, or stab wound. It may be caused by a weapon but does not have to be. The offence is not made out if only the outer layer of skin is broken.

The injury caused to the victim does not have to be severe or long-lasting.


Wounding is what is known as an ‘either way’ offence. This means that it can be heard on indictment in the District Court or summarily in the Magistrates Court.

Wounding offences are finalized in the Magistrates Court unless either the defence or prosecution makes an application for the matter to be dealt with on indictment. This application is made under section 5(2) of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913.

Pleading guilty to wounding

If you have been charged with wounding in Western Australia and are thinking about pleading guilty, you should first consider the following.

Are you guilty and can they prove it?

This may seem like a simple question, but there are several things to consider. Firstly, are all the elements of the offence made out? Did the victim sustain a wound? Was the injury the result of your actions and were your actions either intentional or reckless? Secondly, is there a defence available to you? For example, were you acting in self-defence or was the act accidental? How strong is the case against you?

Do you agree with the police facts?

The police summary of facts is the prosecution version of what happened. If you plead guilty, the court will sentence you based on this information. It is important that you make sure every statement in it is accurate.

If you disagree with anything in the police facts, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecution to have the document amended.

Are there mitigating circumstances?

When a person pleads guilty to offences, the prosecution and the defence have the opportunity to highlight aggravating and mitigating factors. If there are circumstances that mitigate the offence, you should make sure the court has as much information as possible about them.

This may involve gathering character references from people who know you and are aware of the charges against you. It may include providing medical or psychological reports or evidence that you have taken steps to address the underlying causes of the offence.

Pleading not guilty to wounding

If you have been charged with wounding and want to fight the charge, Armstrong Legal’s criminal lawyers can help you to thoroughly analyse the brief of evidence and assess any available defences. If you plead not guilty, your matter will be listed for a contested hearing and the court will hear evidence and submissions from both parties. The magistrate will then decide whether you have been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you are found guilty, you will then be sentenced. If you are found not guilty, the matter will be dismissed.

Applying for bail on a wounding charge

If you have been remanded on a wounding charge, Armstrong Legal can help you to apply for bail. Under the Bail Act 1982, the court will decide whether to grant bail after considering a range of factors including whether, if released, you will:

  • Fail to appear at court;
  • Commit an offence;
  • Endanger the safety, welfare, or property of a person;
  • Interfere with witnesses or obstruct the course of justice.

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

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

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