What is grievous bodily harm?

Grievous bodily harm is defined in section 4 of the Crimes Act 1900 as including:

(a) 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

(b) any permanent or serious disfiguring of the person

(c) any grievous bodily disease (in which case a reference to the infliction of grievous bodily harm includes a reference to causing a person to contract a grievous bodily disease)

Put simply, grievous bodily harm can be defined as a ‘really serious injury’ such as broken bones or internal organ damage.


When does grievous bodily harm occur?

According to section 35 of the Crimes Act 1900, reckless grievous bodily harm or wounding occurs when a person:

  • Causes Grievous Bodily Harm to any person, and
  • Is Reckless as to causing Actual Bodily Harm to that or any other person


What are the penalties for grievous bodily harm?

The maximum penalty depends on whether the offence was committed:

  • By a person alone – maximum penalty 10 years imprisonment; or
  • By a person in company of another person or persons – maximum penalty 14 years imprisonment


What are possible defences to grievous bodily harm?

Possible defences to grievous bodily harm include:

  • Self defence
  • Necessity – arguing that your actions were necessary to prevent greater harm from occurring, e.g. defending somebody else
  • Duress – where you are compelled to act in a certain way due to the circumstances, or the threats of another


In which court is the matter heard?

Reckless Grievous Bodily Harm is a Table 1 offence and is to be dealt with by the Local Court, unless the defendant or the prosecution elect for the matter to be heard in the District Court on indictment.



Nyman Gibson Miralis specialise in a wide range of general and serious criminal law matters. If you require assistance, contact one of our experienced criminal lawyers.