Almost a decade ago in 2014, Queensland implemented the "unlawful striking causing death" offence. In the years that followed, this legislation reshaped how Queensland perceives and addresses the fatal act, colloquially referred to as a ‘King Hit’.
What are the penalties this offence carries? What are the potential defences?
Unpacking the ‘One Punch’ Offence
The “unlawful striking causing death” offence is outlined in section 314A of the Criminal Code, stating, "A person who unlawfully strikes another person to the head or neck and causes the death of the other person is guilty of a crime."
To invoke this charge, the authorities must establish specific elements:
Striking: The act of applying force to another person, whether using a body part or a weapon, constitutes a "strike."
Unlawful Nature: Unless explicitly authorised, justified, or excused, the strike is presumed unlawful.
Head or Neck Target: The law applies when the strike is directed at the victim's head or neck.
Causation of Death: The term "causing" encompasses both direct and indirect causes, covering immediate fatalities or those resulting from punch-related conditions or events.
The Driving Force Behind the ‘One Punch’ Offence
Prior to 2014, numerous incidents (often fuelled by alcohol and occurring at night) witnessed a single punch proving fatal when striking a victim's head or neck.
The existing laws at the time presented many challenges when it came to delivering justice that aligned with community expectations.
Establishing intent for a murder charge brought forward many difficulties, and similarly, manslaughter charges did not always apply as they required evidence of reckless indifference to the outcome.
In response to the need for a more potent deterrent in such cases, the “Unlawful striking causing death” charge found its place in Queensland's legal framework.
“Unlawful striking causing death” carries substantial penalties.
Offenders can face life imprisonment - a sentence intended to underscore the law's deterrence principle.
Navigating Potential Defences
The journey of defending against an unlawful striking causing death charge begins with a careful evaluation of the circumstances.
It's essential to ascertain whether the charge aligns with the actual events.
Specific defences can be available - with one notable exception for participants in socially acceptable sports activities. This defence applies when the act occurred during a reasonable event or activity, following established rules and norms.
Additionally, defences such as self-defence or the defence of others may be explored based on the unique circumstances surrounding each incident.
Seek Legal Assistance
If you find yourself confronted with this charge or a similar serious legal matter, seeking the guidance of an experienced criminal lawyers is your best course of action.
Legal professionals will meticulously assess the facts, identify potential defences, and offer guidance through the complex legal process.
Contact Creevey Horrell Criminal Lawyers
Based in Brisbane, Roma, Toowoomba, and Townsville.
Visit www.chcriminallawyers.com.au/contact-us to contact us today.