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7.4.2.1 - Charge: Intentionally Causing Serious Injury (From 1/7/13)

Click here to obtain a Word version of this document for adaptation.

[This charge should be given if:

If the offence was allegedly committed before 1 July 2013, use Charge: Intentionally Causing Serious Injury (Pre-1/7/13).

If recklessly causing serious injury, intentionally causing injury and recklessly causing injury are all available as alternative verdicts, use Charge: Intentionally or Recklessly Causing Serious Injury or Injury (From 1/7/13).

If recklessly causing serious injury is available as an alternative verdict, but intentionally and recklessly causing injury are not, use Charge: Intentionally or Recklessly Causing Serious Injury (From 1/7/13).

This charge is designed for cases where the injury is one which endangers life or is substantial and protracted. If the injury involves the destruction of a foetus, the charge will need to be modified.]

Charge

I must now direct you about the crime of intentionally causing serious injury. To prove this crime, the prosecution must prove the following 4 elements beyond reasonable doubt:

One - the complainant suffered a serious injury.

Two - the accused caused the complainant’s serious injury.

Three - the accused intended to cause the complainant serious injury.

Four - the accused acted without lawful justification or excuse.

I will now explain each of these elements in more detail.

Serious Injury

The first element that the prosecution must prove is that the complainant suffered a serious injury.

The law defines the word injury to mean physical injury or harm to mental health, whether temporary or permanent. A serious injury is an injury which endangers life or is substantial and protracted. [1]

If multiple injuries were inflicted, add the following shaded section

In making your decision, you do not have to look at each of NOC’s injuries separately, and decide whether or not any one of them is a serious injury. A person may suffer a serious injury because of the cumulative effect of several injuries.

If the physical injuries caused ongoing psychological harm, add the following shaded section

An injury may be substantial and protracted because of the combined effect of the immediate physical injuries and prolonged psychological injuries.

In this case, the prosecution alleges that NOC’s injuries were serious, because [insert prosecution evidence and/or arguments]. The defence denies this, arguing [insert defence evidence and/or arguments]. It is only if you are satisfied that NOC’s injury endangered his/her life or was substantial and protracted that this first element will be met.

Causation

The second element that the prosecution must prove is that the accused caused the complainant’s serious injury.

[If causation is not in issue, add the following shaded section.]

In this case it is not disputed that NOA [insert relevant causal acts], and that doing so caused NOC’s injury. You should therefore have no difficulty finding this element proven.

[If the cause of the complainant’s injury is not disputed, but the accused denies committing the relevant acts, add the following shaded section.]

In this case it is not disputed that [insert relevant causal acts] caused NOC to be seriously injured. However, the defence contends that NOA did not commit those acts. For this element to be met, you must be satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that it was NOA who [insert relevant causal acts].

[If causation is in issue for another reason (such as the existence of multiple possible causes, or the intervention of a third party), a relevant charge from Causation: Charges should be adapted and inserted here.]

Intention

The third element relates to the accused’s state of mind. The prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that at the time the accused did the acts that you find caused the complainant’s injury, s/he intended to seriously injure NOC.

This element will not be satisfied if NOA only intended to injure NOC, but happened to seriously injure him/her. For this element to be met, NOA must have intended to seriously injure NOC. That is, NOA must have intended to inflict an injury which would endanger NOC’s life or which would be substantial and protracted [if necessary, add: or involved the destruction of a foetus other than in the course of a medical procedure].

It is not, however, necessary that NOA intended to inflict the injury that NOC actually suffered. This third element will be satisfied even if NOA intended to inflict a different kind of serious injury.

In this case the prosecution submitted that NOA intentionally [describe relevant act and describe relevant evidence and/or arguments]. The defence responded [insert relevant evidence and/or arguments]. When you are considering this evidence, you will remember what I told you earlier about drawing inferences.

Without Lawful Justification or Excuse

The fourth element that the prosecution must prove is that the accused acted without lawful justification or excuse.

[If no defences are open on the evidence, add the following shaded section.]

In this case, there is no issue that [if/when] NOA [describe relevant acts], s/he acted without lawful justification or excuse. You should therefore have no difficulty finding this element proven.

[If any defences are open on the evidence, insert directions from the relevant topics here (see Part 8: Victorian Defences).]

Application of Law to Evidence

[If not previously done, apply the law to the relevant evidence here.]

Summary

To summarise, before you can find NOA guilty of intentionally causing serious injury, the prosecution must prove to you beyond reasonable doubt:

One – That NOC was seriously injured; and

Two – That NOA caused that serious injury; and

Three – That NOA intended to seriously injure NOC; and

Four – That NOA acted without lawful justification or excuse.

If you find that any of these elements have not been proven beyond reasonable doubt, then you must find NOA not guilty of intentionally causing serious injury.

Warning: The following directions should only be given if the judge leaves the lesser alternative offence. See Jury Directions Act 2015 s11 and Alternative Verdicts on when to leave lesser alternative offences.

Intentionally Causing Injury

If you find NOA not guilty of intentionally causing serious injury, you must next consider the offence of intentionally causing injury. [2]

This is an alternative to the offence of intentionally causing serious injury. That means that you only be asked to return a verdict on this offence if you find NOA not guilty of intentionally causing serious injury.

The offence of intentionally causing injury is very similar to the offence of intentionally causing serious injury, with one important difference: the accused only needs to have caused, and to have intended to cause, the complainant to suffer injury rather than serious injury.

So the four elements of intentionally causing injury that the prosecution have to prove beyond reasonable doubt are:

One – That NOC was injured; and

Two – That NOA caused that injury; and

Three – That NOA intended to injure NOC; and

Four – That NOA acted without lawful justification or excuse.

The way that you determine whether these elements have been proved is the same as for the offence of intentionally causing serious injury, apart from the difference in the level of injury required.

This means that, in relation to the first element, it is for you to determine whether NOC suffered physical injury or harm to his/her mental health. The law says that physical injury includes unconsciousness, disfigurement, substantial pain, infection with a disease and an impairment of bodily function. It also includes all the things that you would, as a matter of ordinary experience, call an injury. The law also says that harm to mental health includes psychological harm, but not emotional reactions such as distress, grief, fear or anger which do not result in psychological harm. You must therefore decide whether NOC has suffered an injury, as opposed to some superficial or trivial harm.

In relation to the second element, it means that you must be satisfied that it was the accused who caused the complainant’s injury.

[If causation is not in issue, add the following shaded section.]

As I told you in relation to the offence of intentionally causing serious injury, it is not disputed that NOA [insert relevant causal acts], and that this caused NOC’s injury. You should therefore have no difficulty finding this element proven.

[If the cause of the complainant’s injury is not disputed, but the accused denies committing the relevant acts, add the following shaded section.]

This requires you to be satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that it was NOA who [insert relevant causal acts].

[If causation is in issue for another reason (such as the existence of multiple possible causes, or the intervention of a third party), a brief summary of the relevant issues should be inserted here.]

In relation to the third element, you must be satisfied that NOA intended to injure NOC, and in relation to the fourth element you must be satisfied that s/he acted without lawful justification or excuse.

[If no defences are open on the evidence, add the following shaded section.]

Again, there is no issue that [if/when] NOA [describe relevant acts], s/he acted without lawful justification or excuse. You should therefore have no difficulty finding the fourth element proven.

[If any defences are open on the evidence, summarise the relevant issues.]

If you find that any of these four elements have not been proved beyond reasonable doubt, then you must find NOA not guilty of intentionally causing injury.

Notes

[1] The judge should consider including an example of a serious injury, such as brain damage, or a stabbing which causes significant blood loss.

[2] Crimes Act 1958 s18.

Last updated: 29 June 2015

See Also

7.4.2 - Intentionally Causing Serious Injury

7.4.2.2 - Checklist: Intentionally Causing Serious Injury (From 1/7/13)

7.4.2.3 - Charge: Intentionally Causing Serious Injury (Pre- 1/7/13)

7.4.2.4 - Checklist: Intentionally Causing Serious Injury (Pre- 1/7/13)

7.4.2.5 - Charge: Intentionally or Recklessly Causing Serious Injury (From 1/7/13)

7.4.2.6 - Charge: Intentionally or Recklessly Causing Serious Injury (Pre-1/7/13)

7.4.2.7 - Charge: Intentionally or Recklessly Causing Serious Injury or Injury (From 1/7/13)

7.4.2.8 - Charge: Intentionally or Recklessly Causing Serious Injury or Injury (Pre-1/7/13)