Criminal Law

An explanation of ‘glassing’ and the laws relating to wounding

Published in: October 2016

The action of ‘glassing’ is treated extremely seriously and within legislation, can be found within the offences related to wounding.

The law

A number of legislative instruments exist within Australia relating to wounding such as s 21 of the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT):


    (1)     A person who intentionally wounds another person is guilty of an offence punishable, on conviction, by imprisonment for 5 years.

    (2)     However, for an aggravated offence against this section, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 7 years.

Note     Section 48A (Aggravated offences—offences against pregnant women) makes provision in relation to aggravated offences against this section.”

The definition of wounding

Looking towards the common law definition, we can turn to the judgment of Windeyer J in Vallance v The Queen (1961) 108 CLR 56 where his Honour said (at 77):

“The meaning of “wounding” is well settled. Lord Lyndhurst in 1834 said that the “definition of a wound in criminal cases is an injury to the person, by which the skin is broken. If the skin is broken, and there was bleeding, that is a wound.”

Further context in relation to wounding can also be found in the judgment of Robert Goff LJ in JJC (a minor) v Einsenhower [1983] 3 AII ER 230 (QBD) where his Lordship said (at 232):

“There must be a break in the continuity of the skin. It must be a break in the continuity of the whole skin, but the skin may include not merely the outer skin of the body but the skin as an internal cavity of the body where the skin of the cavity is continuous with the outer skin of the body.”

Although not an offence within itself, offences involving glassing in hotels or clubs will usually be considered as an offence involving wounding. 

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