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Criminal Law Blog NSW

A Wollongong man was arrested after his dogs allegedly attacked a man.

Police allege that he also set the couple alight.It was said that the man confronted the couple, whilst they were walking through the neighborhood. It is further alleged that the man’s dogs were responsible for a serious attack on the couple. Police believe that the three people know each other.

Even if the man did not have any actual contact with the victims, whilst causing his dogs to attack them, he may still be guilty of a serious criminal offense. Section 35A of the Crimes Act 1900 specifically creates offences in situations where you “cause the dog to inflict actual bodily harm” or “cause the dog to inflict grievous bodily harm”. In cases of grievous bodily harm (serious injury) the person may, after conviction, be sentenced to a maximum of ten years imprisonment. In cases of actual bodily harm (less serious injuries) you may be sentenced to imprisonment of up to five years.

Unfortunately, these offenses don’t often end up in court. Over a recent period of four years, only two people were sentenced to a suspended sentence after a conviction of “causing actual bodily harm”, and only one person was sentenced to actual imprisonment. No person had been sentenced for the offense of causing a dog to inflict “grievous bodily harm”.

Regardless of the number of actual prosecutions, these offenses remain very serious criminal offenses, with serious penalties attached to convictions. The maximum term of imprisonment for causing a dog to inflict actual bodily harm is the same as for assault causing actual bodily harm. Likewise, a case of causing grievously bodily harm carries the same sentence as for “recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm”.

It is therefore clear that the law regards this as a very serious crime - using an animal to attack a person is not seen as trivial, or less serious.

We don’t know yet whether the man will be charged with a crime under Sec 35A. He might be charged with another serious offense, given that the couple was set alight. We’ll wait and see if this case will indeed lead to a prosecution under Section 35A.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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