The offence of discharge of firearm with intent may be committed in two forms. It may be committed by discharging a firearm or loaded arms with intent to cause grievous bodily harm or with intent to resist arrest.
Loaded arms means any gun, pistol, or other arms, loaded in the barrel or chamber or magazine with gunpowder or other explosive substance, and with ball, shot, slug, or other destructive material, although the attempt to discharge may fail from want of proper priming, or from any other cause; and every gun, pistol, or other arms, unlawfully presented at any person, shall be deemed to be loaded unless the contrary is shown.
For the offence to be committed, the intent of the offender in discharging the firearm must be clear. The intent must be either to cause grievous bodily harm or to resist arrest. Otherwise, no offence or any other offence is committed in discharging the firearm. This should not be mistaken because the law provides a severe penalty for a convicted offender.
The relevant provision of the law is found in Section 33 (1). A person who discharges any firearm or other loaded arms, or attempts to discharge any firearm or other loaded arms with intent to cause grievous bodily harm to any person is guilty of an offence.
The punishable acts do not only extend to actually discharging a firearm or loaded arms; a mere attempt to discharge such firearm or loaded arms also constitutes the offence. It does not matter whether or not the intended victim is actually hit or suffered grievous bodily harm in discharging the firearm; what is important is that he had the intention to cause grievous bodily harm.
Grievous bodily harm means the destruction (other than in the course of a medical procedure) of the foetus of a pregnant woman, whether or not the woman suffers any other harm, and any permanent or serious disfiguring of the person any grievous bodily disease (in which case a reference to the infliction of grievous bodily harm includes a reference to causing a person to contract a grievous bodily disease). (Section 4, Crimes Act 1900)
The other form of committing the offence is to discharge a firearm with intent to resist arrest. A person who discharges any firearm or other loaded arms or attempts to discharge any firearm or other loaded arms with intent to resist or prevent his or her (another person’s) lawful arrest commits an offence.
(Section 33 (2)) Like in the first form, a mere attempt to discharge such firearm or loaded arms also constitutes the offence. In this form, the subject of the arrest may not be necessarily be the one who discharged the firearm and that the arrest must be lawful. Otherwise, a person may be justified in discharging a firearm to resist arrest if the arrest is not authorized by law or not by virtue of a warrant.
The Crimes Act 1900 defines and punishes the offence of discharge of firearm with intent, particularly in Section 33A. It is one of the offences under the offences against the persons.
A person charge of an offence of discharging firearm with intent may allege in his defence that he was just acting in a self-defence and that it was necessary for him to discharge a firearm to cause grievous bodily harm in order to repel or prevent an unlawful attack or it was necessary to incapacitate the attacker from further attacking him. In addition to that, the accused may also set up in his defence that the discharging of firearm or an attempt thereof was justifiable to repel or prevent an unlawful arrest.
The maximum penalty that is imposed upon the convicted person is 25 years of imprisonment. However, the court may impose any other penalty if the circumstances of the case deemed it necessary.
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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.