The principle of an accident is used in situations where the Accused is not held liable for their actions if they are unintended, involuntary or unforeseeable.

It is not up to the Accused to prove that the offending was the result of an ‘accident’, but rather, it is up to the Prosecution to prove that the offence was committed intentionally and voluntarily.

The defence of ‘accident’ is often used in cases where the offence has an element of intention. For example if the Accused is charged with criminal damage, the Prosecution must prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt;

That the Accused-

1. Intentionally

2. Without lawful excuse

3. Damages property

4. Belonging to another

(See Crimes Act 1958 s. 197 (1))

Section 197 (4) goes on to say:

“For the purposes of subsections (1) … a person who destroys or damages property shall be taken as doing so intentionally if, but only if—

        (a)     his purpose or one of his purposes is to destroy or damage property; or

        (b)     he knows or believes that his conduct is more likely than not to result in destruction of or damage to property.

In this example, it would be a defence to the charge if the Accused can establish that the damage resulted in an accident and that they did not intend for the damage to occur.