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Intentionally causing serious injury (ICSI)

Intentionally causing serious injury (ICSI) is the most serious of the non-fatal injury offences that can be charged against an alleged offender in Victoria.

What the Law Says - Section 16 of the Crimes ACT 1958. Causing serious injury intentionally

A person who, without lawful excuse, intentionally causes serious injury to another person is guilty of an indictable offence.

The maximum penalty for intentionally causing serious injury is Level 3 imprisonment (20 years).

The offence involves three elements that must be proved beyond reasonable doubt:
1. the accused caused serious injury to another person;
2. the accused intended to cause that serious injury; and
3. the accused caused the serious injury without lawful excuse.

Serious injury is not exhaustively defined in legislation. Section 15 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) provides that:

  • injury includes unconsciousness, hysteria, pain and any substantial impairment of bodily function;
  • serious injury includes –
  • a. a combination of injuries; and
  • b. 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.

It has been held that ‘serious injury’ is an ordinary English term. Therefore, if there is a jury trial, it is for the jury to determine, as a question of fact, whether the victim’s injuries qualify as ‘serious’.In the overwhelming majority of cases examined in this report, the case resolved through a plea of guilty, which meant that the defendant accepted that the injury was a serious injury.

Although the issue of whether a particular injury is a ‘serious’ injury is a question of fact, appellate courts have given some guidance on the meaning of serious injury. The Court of criminal appeal has contrasted ‘serious injury’ with injuries that would be commonly regarded as ‘slight, superficial or trifling’.

In practice, this has set the threshold for ‘serious injury’ at a relatively low level. The Court of Appeal has held, for example, that two significant black eyes together with grazes around the top of the head and face may be sufficient to constitute ‘serious injury’.

The second element – the accused’s intention to cause serious injury – differentiates intentionally causing serious injury from recklessly causing serious injury. To satisfy the mental element of intentionally causing serious injury, it is not enough for the prosecution to prove that the accused intended to do the act that caused the serious injury: the prosecution must also prove that the accused intended to cause serious injury.

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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