I’ve been charged with “grievous bodily harm”. What does this mean?
Section 320 of the Criminal Code (Qld) makes it a crime to do grievous bodily harm to another.
“Grievous bodily harm” describes any injuries that result in;
(a) The loss of a distinct part or an organ of the body; or
(b) Serious disfigurement; or
(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.
The definition of grievous bodily harm is relatively broad and applies whether or not treatment is or could have been available. It covers a wide range of injuries, from the loss of a limb to a broken bone.
It is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that you had any kind of intention to commit this offence. This means you can be found guilty of grievous bodily harm even if you never intended to even touch the complainant.
Similarly lack of consent does not need to be established (a person cannot consent to grievous bodily harm).
See what the law says about Grievous Bodily Harm.
What kind of penalty will I get for this offence?
The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years imprisonment.
While the legislation sets out the maximum penalties for offences, when deciding what penalty should be imposed in each individual case the court is required to take in to account the nature of the offence, your unique personal circumstances and any criminal history.
To get a better idea of the penalties that a court might impose in your case it will be necessary for a solicitor to discuss your matter with you and gain a better understanding of your circumstances.
Under new legislation there are mandatory sentences that apply in circumstances where you have committed the assault in a public place while intoxicated. In such circumstances the court must require you, as part of your penalty, to perform community service.
Our solicitors have extensive experience in this area and will be able to assist you in making sure you get the best result when your charge is finalised. For more information on the factors that courts will consider when deciding your penalty see our sentencing page.
Are there any defences I can raise?
There are a number of possible defences that can be raised by people charged with grievous bodily harm. Some of these include;
- Self defence
Provocation cannot be raised as a defence for grievous bodily harm.
If you believe there may be a defence available to you it is always advisable to speak with a solicitor about your chances of success and strategies in raising your arguments.
What do I do if police ask me to come in and speak with them about a grievous bodily harm charge?
It is important to remember your right to silence (see our “your rights” page for more information).
There are different kinds of assault and violent offences. If you decide to speak with police there is a real risk that you may unintentionally provide them with evidence that allows them to charge you with a more serious offence or additional charges.
Our advice to clients is always to be cooperative and respectful with police but to exercise your right to silence when they ask you questions. You should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after police contact you.
How will a lawyer help me with my grievous bodily harm charge?
There are a number of benefits to engaging a lawyer to act for you on your assault charge. Our solicitors are highly experienced in these matters and can provide you with:
- Expert advice about the strength of the prosecution’s case and your prospects of successfully fighting the charge.
- A representative who can attend court on your behalf (and save you from having to attend and speak for yourself on every court date).
- Years of experience in successfully negotiating with prosecution on our clients’ charges.
An experienced court room advocate who can effectively present your case and submit to the court relevant, persuasive information designed to minimise your penalty.