Intentionally Causing Serious Injury; Recklessly Causing Serious Injury
The client was was drinking with two friends. One of them started talking about an acquaintance who had taken $80 from him for a 1/4 ounce of cannabis and then failed to provide it. As the three became more intoxicated it was decided that they should go and talk to this man.
When they located him, things quickly got out of hand. What was meant to be a stern discussion turned into a savage beating. The victim suffered significant injuries to his face. The client and his friends were charged with Intentionally Causing Serious Injury and Recklessly Causing Serious Injury. The first charge can only be heard in the County Court. It is a very serious charge and will nearly always result in an immediate gaol sentence.
After discussions with the Office of Public Prosecution (OPP / Crown) it was agreed that they would have difficulty proving intent, due to the level of intoxication of the accused and the fact it was very dark when the assault occurred.
Subsequently the OPP was content to resolve on the basis of a guilty plea to one charge of Recklessly Causing Serious Injury. It was also agreed that the Crown would not oppose a summary jurisdiction application.
This was an excellent outcome for two reasons. Firstly, having a charge of Recklessly Causing Serious Injury heard in the Summary Jurisdiction meant that a suspended sentence was still open to the sentencing Magistrate. Secondly it meant that if the client was not happy with the outcome in the Magistrates’ Court the matter could be taken to the County Court for a de novo appeal. This is a form of appeal in which the appeals court holds a trial as if no prior trial had been held. Although an appeal against sentence can be lodged from the County Court to the Court of Appeal, it is far more difficult.
Following on from the plea in the Magistrates’ court, the Magistrate took into account the client’s lack of relevant prior criminal history, the limited role he played in the assault and the fact that the victim made a full recovery. His Honour then imposed a 15 month gaol sentence wholly suspended for a period of 2 years. This was an excellent outcome.