Unlawful Striking Causing Death

This offence was brought in by the recent Newman Government. You can read a recent blog about the offence here.

The offence is created under section 314A of the Criminal Code.

The offence is constituted by an unlawful strike to the head or neck which directly or indirectly causes death. Striking is defined as directly applying force by punching or kicking, or by otherwise hitting using any part of the body, with or without the use of a dangerous or offensive weapon or instrument.

The defence of accident under section 23(1)(b) cannot be raised in reply to this charge. Neither can the defence of prevention of repetition of insult under section 270. These restrictions often raise many difficulties in arguing the case of a defendant. For example, the fall of the victim may have actually caused the death. This may have been completely unforeseeable and extremely unlucky. Regardless, the accused may eventually be found guilty of this most serious offence for which he might otherwise have a defence.

In some circumstances where the striking occurred during a socially acceptable function or activity or where it was reasonable in the circumstance, the accused may raise a defence.

The maximum penalty is life imprisonment. Furthermore, if the court sentences a person to a term of imprisonment, the court must order that the imprisonment is actually served in a correctional facility for either 80% of that term or 15 years, whichever is the lesser.