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Criminal Law Blog VIC

How serious is Reckless Conduct Endangering Life?

Reckless conduct that places or may place another person in danger of death is an offence punishable with a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

What the law says

Section 22 of the Crimes Act 1958 provides that a person who, without lawful excuse, recklessly engages in conduct that places or may place another person in danger of death is guilty of an indictable offence.

Evidence of the Police and the Prosecution

The police and the prosecution bear the onus of proving beyond reasonable doubt that the offender committed conduct in a reckless manner that place or potentially places another person’s life in danger. In order to convict the offender the following elements must be proven to exist:

  • The offender engaged in conduct;
  • Such conduct placed a person in danger of death or that such conduct carried with it a certain risk of death of the other person;
  • The offender voluntarily committed such conduct;
  • A reasonable or ordinary person placed under the same circumstances as the offender would have realized that such conduct would place another person in danger of death;
  • The conduct was committed recklessly in spite that the offender could have foreseen that a probable consequence of such conduct was placing another person in danger of death.

It is not sufficient that the victim’s life is threatened. It must be shown by the prosecution that the offender actually engaged in conduct or must have actively taken steps that endangers another person’s life. Driving at dangerous speed and pointing a loaded firearm at another person are examples of conduct that endangers another person’s life.

Possible defences of the accused

To obtain a conviction against the accused, the prosecution must prove the existence of all the elements of the crime. The absence of one or some of the elements is tantamount to not being able to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

The offender can invoke self-defence against the alleged victim. However, a successful self-defence theory must show that it was actually the victim who provoked the offender. It must also be proven by the offender that in defending himself/herself the offender did not intend to commit an indictable offence against the victim.

Another plausible defence is that the offender was acting under duress at the time of the commission of the conduct that placed another person’s life in danger.

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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