Under the legislation, there are three distinct categories of negligent driving offences: 1. Negligent driving 2. Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm 3. Negligent driving occasioning death Negligent driving covers a wide array of situations where you cause an accident, but your driving behaviour falls short of the recklessness or danger needed for more serious charges such as 'reckless driving' or 'dangerous driving.' For instance, you could face a charge of negligent driving if your attention wasn't fully on the road or if you failed to follow road rules, resulting in an accident. While it represents the least severe form of a 'dangerous driving' offence, negligent driving can still lead to substantial penalties, especially if you are charged with negligent driving that caused grievous bodily harm or death. If you are charged with negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm under Section 117(1)(b) of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW), the maximum penalties vary depending on whether it is your first or subsequent offence: 1. First offence: Fine of $2,200 and/or imprisonment for up to 9 months. The 'automatic' disqualification period is 3 years, which the court can reduce to a minimum disqualification of 12 months. 2. Second/subsequent offence: Fine of $3,300 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months. The 'automatic' disqualification period is 5 years, which the court can reduce to a minimum disqualification of 2 years. These cases can also be emotionally stressful and demanding. Seeking professional legal guidance is crucial to navigate the complexities of your case and work toward the best possible outcome. At KPT Defence Lawyers, we specialise in traffic law and have a proven track record of securing favorable results for our clients in cases involving negligent driving causing grievous bodily harm.
In NSW, the definition of “grievous bodily harm” is outlined in section 4 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
This legislation provides the legal framework and interpretation for various offences, including those involving bodily harm.
“Grievous bodily harm” is defined as very serious harm and includes:
(a) the destruction (other than in the course of a medical procedure or a termination of a pregnancy in accordance with the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 ) of the foetus of a pregnant woman, whether or not the woman suffers any other harm, and
(b) any permanent or serious disfiguring of the person, and
It’s important to refer to the specific provisions of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) for a comprehensive understanding of the definition and its implications. Legal advice is recommended for any specific legal matters or inquiries.
Negligence while driving is defined as departing from the standard level of caution that an ordinary and cautious driver would exercise given the specific circumstances.
When evaluating whether this offence has occurred, the court must consider:
If you find yourself facing allegations of negligent driving and believe that you are not responsible, you have the option to plead ‘not guilty’ in court and contest the charges.
When dealing with charges of ‘negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm,’ the prosecution must prove that you caused significant harm to another person, resulting in enduring and substantial injury. This harm could involve severe disfigurement, fractures, internal organ damage, or even the loss of a fetus.
If you have doubts about the prosecution’s ability to establish these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, opting for a ‘not guilty’ plea may be appropriate.
Our experienced traffic lawyers will meticulously analyse all available evidence to identify any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. When vulnerabilities are identified, we can engage with the prosecution and request the charges be dropped before the court proceedings, potentially saving you time and expenses.
However, there might be situations where the prosecution is unwilling to drop the charges. In such scenarios, our legal team is well-equipped to assist you in constructing a robust defence to prove your innocence during the court process.
We can aid you in gathering relevant evidence and securing expert witnesses, such as crash investigators, who can provide valuable testimony in support of your defence.
For instance, if you can demonstrate that you exercised reasonable care and attention given the circumstances, you can challenge the charges by providing testimony in court to support your claim.
Courts evaluate the level of ‘care and attention’ by considering various factors related to the incident, including weather conditions, road conditions, and traffic circumstances.
Additionally, a ‘not guilty’ plea is an option if you intend to present one of the following defences that explains your actions:
1. Necessity: Driving due to unavoidable circumstances to prevent harm.
2. Duress: Driving under threat or coercion.
3. Automatism: Involuntary actions without conscious control.
4. Self-defence: Driving to protect oneself or others from harm.
5. Reasonable mistake of fact: Reasonably misunderstanding road rules or speed limits
When you provide evidence of these defences, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defence does not apply to your situation. If they fail to meet this burden, you are entitled to an acquittal, meaning a verdict of not guilty.
If you choose to enter a guilty plea at an early stage in the proceedings, you are entitled to a discount on your sentencing. This decision also demonstrates to the magistrate or judge that you are taking accountability for your actions, which may influence them to consider a more lenient penalty.
Acknowledging your responsibility through an early guilty plea can have a positive impact on the overall outcome of your case. It is a gesture of acceptance that could lead to a reduced sentence.
However, before making any plea, it’s wise to seek guidance from an experienced traffic lawyer. Their expertise can shed light on whether there are valid grounds to challenge the charges. A skilled lawyer can analyse the details of your case, identify potential weaknesses in the prosecution’s argument, and advise you on the best course of action.
By consulting with a knowledgeable legal professional, you can make an informed decision about your plea and receive the support needed to navigate the complexities of the legal process. At KPT Defence Lawyers, we specialise in traffic law and are dedicated to helping you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
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