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It is a crime to intentional intent to harm another person

Crimes that are more serious than assault can be charged if the alleged victim was intentionally injured.

Two crimes in South Australia are related to but more serious than, the offence of assault. This article will help you understand those crimes and the defences you might raise to them.

Causing Harm

Section 24 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act makes it an offence to cause harm to another person:

  • with the intent to harm that person, or
  • by acting recklessly.

Harm means physical injury or pain. It also includes mental suffering, such as severe embarrassment or humiliation.

Harm is caused recklessly when the likelihood of causing harm is foreseeable but the accused acts without regard to that risk or with indifference to the harm that will likely be caused.

The offence differs from common assault, which does not require any physical contact between the accused and an alleged victim or the intentional infliction of harm.

Penalty

Causing harm is punishable by a maximum sentence of imprisonment for ten years if the harm was inflicted intentionally. If one or more aggravating circumstances are present, the maximum sentence increases to 13 years.

Causing harm is punishable by a maximum sentence of imprisonment for five years if the harm was inflicted recklessly. Aggravating circumstances increase the maximum to 7 years.

Aggravating circumstances include:

  • The systematic infliction of severe pain on the victim
  • The use or displayed a weapon
  • The victim was a law enforcement officer who was on duty
  • The accused acted to the dissuade the victim from participating in legal proceedings
  • The accused knew the victim was under the age of 12 or over the age of 60
  • The victim was particularly vulnerable
  • The victim was the accused’s spouse, domestic partner, or child
  • Another person assisted the accused in committing the offence

Causing serious harm

Section 23 makes it an offence to cause serious harm to another person:

  • with the intent to harm that person, or
  • by acting recklessly.

Serious harm can be either mental or physical. Harm is usually regarded as serious if it is permanent, long-lasting, or disabling. Injury to a vital organ or a very deep cut might also be regarded as serious harm.

Penalty

Intentional infliction of serious harm in violation of section 23 is punishable by a maximum sentence of imprisonment for 20 years. If any of the aggravating circumstances described above are present, the maximum sentence increases to 25 years.

A reckless infliction of serious harm is punishable by a maximum sentence of imprisonment for 15 years. Aggravating circumstances increase the maximum to 19 years.

Defences

Since the crimes require proof of intent or reckless action, in some cases a defence can be based on the assertion that the harm was caused accidentally. A defence can also be based on a legal justification, such as self-defence.

Other facts might also be in dispute, including:

  • whether the accused is the person who caused the harm
  • whether the alleged victim experienced any harm
  • whether the harm was serious (if the charge is “causing serious harm”)
  • whether the alleged victim’s physical or mental harm existed before any encounter with the accused

To determine the best defence in your case if you are accused of causing harm or causing serious harm, you should get the opinion of a lawyer.

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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