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Offences against the person
Assault, Wounding, GBH, ABH.

A variety of offences including Common Assault, Actual Bodily Harm (ABH), Wounding and Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) are all classed as Offences Against the Person.

The Offences against the person Act in England defines a number of different types of physical assault. These offences vary in seriousness and therefore the severity of the penalty that can be imposed by the Courts.

Listed in order of severity of the penalty which can be imposed, the offences are. (Most severe penalty first.)

  1. Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) – Wounding (with intent)
  2. Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) – Wounding (without intent)
  3. Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)
  4. Common Assault

If you are arrested or charged with any of these offences you should ask for a solicitor at the earliest opportunity. You have a right to legal representation.

Legal Advice and assistance in a Police Station is free of charge and will be paid for by Legal Aid. We recommend that you say nothing to the Police until you have spoken directly with us.

We have a 24 hour emergency advice line so that we can respond immediately to your situation. Our 24 hour number is 07850 012 366.

Below are more details of the offences included in the Offences against the person Act 1861.

Grievous Bodily Harm ( GBH )

There are two separate offences of GBH, they are GBH with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and GBH without intent.

Grievous Bodily Harm is defined as ‘really serious bodily harm’.

The critical distinction when it comes to sentencing is the intent to cause grievous bodily harm or lack of intent.

If the attacker only intended to cause ‘some harm or pain’ and not ‘grievous bodily harm’ then this would be a less serious offence carrying a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and may be dealt with by either the Crown or Magistrates Court.

If there was intent then this is more serious and the offence would be dealt with by the Crown Court and can carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Actual Bodily Harm ( ABH )

Actual bodily harm is an offence where harm has been caused, but the only intention of the attacker was to want to assault the victim. The critical distinction here is the lack of intent to cause injury. To qualify for this offence the harm caused will often be more minor such as bruises.

In these cases the prosecution only has to prove that an assault was carried out, in addition to showing that bodily harm was caused; they do not have to show that actual bodily harm was intended.

ABH may be dealt with in either the Crown or Magistrates Court. This offence carries a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment.

Common Assault

Common Assault is when someone either applies unlawful force on another person (for example by hitting or slapping), or makes them afraid that immediate force will be used against them.

There does not need to be any injury caused. If an injury was caused then the offence would often be elevated to a charge of Actual Bodily Harm (ABH).

Common assaults are offences which can only be dealt with in the Magistrates Court as they tend to be less serious in nature. These offences are usually dealt with by a fine or a community penalty but the maximum possible sentence is 6 months imprisonment.

We have a great deal of experience in defending clients charged with all of the above offences.

Please contact us for more information.

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