Is there a self-defence to grievous bodily harm, murder or manslaughter? Unlike murder or manslaughter, grievous bodily harm is a criminal offence which is considered a serious offence. When a person has been charged with grievous bodily harm, it is necessary to prove two elements. The first is that the defendant caused grievous bodily harm to another person, and that such harm was done unlawfully. However, it is not unlawful if the harm is authorised, justified or excused by law.
Self-Defence for Murder or Manslaughter
The next question to ask is, were they acting in self-defence?
In the matter of R v Muratovic, Justice Hart said that, to enable a person charged with willful murder or murder to raise a defence on a literal reading of section 271, there must be evidence of the following constituents:
- That he was unlawfully assaulted;
- That he had not provoked the assault;
- That the nature of the assault was such as to cause reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm;
- That he believed on reasonable grounds that he could preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm otherwise than by using force; and
- That the force used by him was necessary for his defence.
Common Law Test
The common law test was determined in the matter Zecevic v DPP, which asks whether the accused believed upon reasonable grounds that it was necessary in self-defence to do what he did. If the person had that belief and there were reasonable grounds for it, or if the jury is left in reasonable doubt about the matter, then he is entitled to an acquittal. Stated in that form, the question is one of general application and is not limited to cases of homicide. Where homicide is involved some elaboration may be necessary.
Seek Legal Advice
If you have been charged with grievous bodily harm, murder, or manslaughter, it is important to seek legal advice. At Brisbane Criminal Lawyers, we offer new clients a complimentary initial consultation to provide them with a case assessment. This includes providing legal and practical advice, as determining the next steps regarding your charges.
To organise a consultation with Brisbane Criminal Lawyers, call 1800 200 357.