THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Reckless wounding is an offence under section 35(4) of the Crimes Act 1900(NSW).
- This offence is a Table 1 (T1) It can be dealt with in either the Local Court or the District Court.
- The maximum penalty is 7 years imprisonment, however if dealt with in the Local Court the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment.
- If dealt with in the District Court, there is a standard non-parole period of 3 years imprisonment.
- If you plead guilty, or are found guilty, a number of different sentences can be imposed. It is likely that a criminal conviction will be recorded.
WHAT DOES THE PROSECUTOR HAVE TO PROVE?
If you have been charged with reckless wounding, the prosecutor must prove that you:
- wounded someone (the complainant)
- were reckless as to causing actual bodily harm to the complainant, or someone else.
What is wounding?
Wounding means the breaking of the inner layer of skin. A wound does not need to be caused by a weapon; punching someone and splitting their lip could amount to a wound.
Bruises, scratches or marks which only break the outer layer of skin do not amount to wounding.
What does ‘reckless as to causing actual bodily harm’ mean?
Being reckless as to causing actual bodily harm means you realised that actual bodily harm may possibly be inflicted on the complainant by your actions, but continued regardless.
Actual bodily harm includes things like bruises, scratches or marks. The injury does not need to be permanent, but it must be more than transient.
SHOULD I PLEAD GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY?
This will depend on a number of factors including, for example:
- whether you accept that you assaulted the complainant
- whether the injury amounts to a wounding (if not, you may still be guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm)
- whether you were reckless as to causing actual bodily harm whether you were acting in self-defence.
You may accept that you assaulted the complainant, but:
your lawyer may be able to persuade the prosecutor to accept a plea of guilty to a less serious charge such as assault occasioning actual bodily harm (AOABH)
you may disagree with part of what police say happened. In these circumstances, your lawyer maybe able to negotiate with the prosecutor to change the police facts.
What will the court take into account when sentencing?
- The court will take into account the nature of the injury, the nature of the assault and the surrounding circumstances. For example, if the wound is to a complainant’s foot, this may be seen as less serious than a wound to the complainant’s face or neck.
- The court will also take into account many other factors including your personal circumstances and criminal history.
If I plead guilty or am found guilty, will a conviction be recorded?
It is likely that the court will record a conviction. The type of sentence you receive will depend on thefacts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.
It is important that a lawyer properly prepares and presents your case to assist you in getting the best possible outcome.
What does it mean to have a conviction recorded?
A conviction is an entry on your criminal record (also referred to as your antecedents). A conviction may pose a hurdle, or a bar, to current or future employment, travel, adoption, residency, applications forcitizenship or your ability to attain or hold a certain licence.
Will I go to gaol for an offence of reckless wounding?
Although there are many sentencing alternatives, it is possible that you will go to gaol if you plead guilty or are found guilty.
The maximum penalty for reckless wounding is 7 years imprisonment, however the type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.
It is important that a lawyer properly prepares and presents your case to minimise the risk of you going to gaol.
What is a standard non-parole period (SNPP)?
A non-parole period is the period of time someone spends in gaol before they will be released to parole (or considered for parole).
A standard non-parole period is a legislative guidepost’ which represents the non-parole parole period foran offence which is in the middle of the range of seriousness, without reference to discounts or positive or negative features for an offender.
What if I only assaulted someone because they hit me first?
You may have a defence of self-defence available to you. This will depend on whether you believed that it was necessary to do what you did, and whether what you did was reasonable in thecircumstances.
What injuries could amount to wounding?
Wounding can include a laceration, a deep cut or a stab wound.
How do I know if the inner layer of the skin is broken?
If this element is in dispute, the police would need to prove that the inner layer of the skin broke by presenting medical evidence from a doctor.
Do I have to be in possession of a weapon to be found guilty of reckless wounding?
No. A wound does not need to be caused by a weapon; punching someone and splitting their lip could amount to a wound.
This blog is intended to provide general information about matters that often come before the court and is not legal advice. For legal advice on wounding offences or any other criminal offences, please reach out to us and speak to one of our lawyers on (02) 9696 1361 (Sydney) or (02) 5104 9640 (Canberra) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Umar Ikram, Lawyer