Offences against the person
Offences against the person is the legal term used to describe a number of violent crimes. These are:
- Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) – Wounding with intent
- Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) – Wounding without intent
- Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)
- Common Assault
These are all serious crimes that can incur severe penalties. If you have been arrested or charged with an offence of this type, please contact us for advice.
Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)
Wounding with intent
GBH means ‘really serious bodily harm’, or wounding another person.
To be guilty of this offence the attacker must have had intent to cause GBH. The intent is an important distinction when it comes to sentencing.
Because of its seriousness, this type of assault is always dealt with by the Crown Court and can carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) – Wounding without intent
If someone only intended to cause ‘some harm or pain’ rather than ‘really serious bodily harm’, then the offence is Grievous Bodily Harm without intent.
Although still a serious offence, this carries a lower panelty than GBH with intent and therefore carries a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and may be dealt with by either the Crown or Magistrates Court.
Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)
Actual bodily harm is where harm has been caused, but the only intention of the attacker was to want to assault the victim.
For ABH the prosecution do not need to show that the defendant intended to cause injury. If it can be shown that the defendant was negligent then that is sufficient. You can therefore be found guilty of a serious offence without having intention to commit it in the normal sense of the term.
The prosecution therefore has only to prove that an assault was carried out together with proof of the fact 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 and carries a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment.
Common assault is the offence of either:
- applying unlawful force on another person, or
- of making them afraid that immediate force will be used against them
It is not necessary therefore for there to be an injury suffered for a common assault to have been carried out.
For Common Assault the maximum sentence is 6 months imprisonment or it may be dealt with by a fine or a community penalty.