Olliers has vast experience of defending assault and grievous bodily harm allegations
Three main offences of violence are the ones that can be dealt with in the Crown Court under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
Section 47 Assault – Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)
The offence is committed when a person assaults another, thereby causing Actual Bodily Harm (ABH). Bodily harm has its ordinary meaning and is generally consistent with injuries considered ‘serious’ , for example, involving stitches or a hospital procedure involving anaesthetic.
Section 47 Assault is an either way offence which means it can be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court and arises when actual bodily harm has been caused. In the Crown Court it carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.
Section 20 Assault – Unlawful Wounding/Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)
Section 20 Assault involves grievous (or really serious) bodily harm or a wound.
This offence is committed when a person unlawfully and maliciously, either:
- wounds another person; or
- inflicts grievous bodily harm upon another person.
Wounding means the breaking of the continuity of the whole of the outer skin, or the inner skin within the cheek or lip. The definition of wounding may include injuries that are relatively minor in nature, for example, a small cut. However these should not be charged as an assault contrary to section 20 and this should be reserved for those wounds considered to be really serious.
Grievous bodily harm means really serious bodily harm. Examples of what would usually amount to really serious harm include:
- injury resulting in permanent disability, loss of sensory function or visible disfigurement;
- broken bones, including fractured skull, compound fractures, broken cheek bone, jaw, ribs, etc;
- injuries which cause substantial loss of blood, usually necessitating a transfusion or result in lengthy treatment or incapacity;
- serious psychiatric injury.
It is an either way offence which carries a maximum penalty on indictment of five years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. In the Magistrates’ Court the maximum penalty is six months imprisonment and/or a fine.
Section 18 Assault – Wounding/Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) with intent
The most serious offence of violence is Section 18 grievous bodily harm and can also be known as wounding with intent.
This offence is indictable only, which means it can only be dealt with in the Crown Court. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment.
The difference between an offence of section 18 assault and section 20 is one of intent. The severity of the injury caused is not the determining factor, although it can provide evidence of intent.
Factors that may suggest intent necessary for section 18 assault include:
• Repeated/ planned attack;
• Deliberate selection of a weapon;
• Adapting an article to cause injury e.g. breaking a glass before an attack;
• Prior threats;
• Using an offensive weapon to the head or kicking the victim’s head.
Assault Sentencing Guidelines
The Sentencing Council have definite sentencing guidelines for offences of violence. These take into account the harm sustained and the culpability of the offender. They also take into account any aggravating circumstances of the offence and personal mitigation of a defendant.
Specialist Assault Lawyers
Olliers provide specialist advice and representation throughout England and Wales.
We are the Manchester Legal Awards Crime Team of the Year 2017 and are ranked as a Top Tier criminal firm in the current editions of the Legal 500 and Chambers Directory.
If you are facing an allegation of assault or grievous bodily harm please contact Stacey Mabrouk (matters in the Crown Court) or Laura Baumanis (Magistrates’ Court matters) on 0161 834 1515 or click here to email us.