Arrested for Grievous Bodily Harm?
Grievous Bodily Harm With Intent (S.18 Offences Against Person Act)
Grievous Bodily Harm (S.20 Offences Against Person Act).
To be convicted section 18 GBH, the defendant must be proved to have committed really serious harm, or wounded another person (for example by stabbing with a knife). However, the damage must be intended.
However, if the intention of the defendant was to only cause some pain or harm, but not "really serious harm", then the offence committed is Section 20 Assault - a less serious version of GBH, also called "wounding without intent".
So a defendant who has kicked somebody else and broken their ribs, could be guilty of Section 20 Assault if they did not specifically want to cause that damage, but Section 18 Assault if they actually intended that damage.
Whether an offence is Section 18 or Section 20 is important when it comes to sentence.
Section 20 Assault has a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment, and can even be dealt with, rarely, in the Magistrates Court, usually the Crown Court.
Section 18 Assault, can only ever be dealt with in the Crown Court, and can result in a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, although sentences of more than 10 years for Section 18 are rare.
Section 47 Assault - Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)
This is assault resulting in some harm such as scratches, bruises etc.
The only intention required is to want to assault the victim, which means to exert unlawful force. Also, a defendant can be reckless as to the injury, for example throwing a bottle into a crowd, if someone is injured, the defendant has been reckless and can be convicted of ABH.
The maximum sentence for ABH is 5 years if dealt with at the Crown Court.
This offence can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court. Community penalties are available for Defendants with no previous convictions.
Always seek advice as the benefits of an early plea.
Section 39 Assault - Common Assault
This offence is committed 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 (for example by waving a hand or fist closely at another person). There need not be any marks or injury. Any injury or bruising would usually result in the charge being raised to one of ABH. A first offence usually means a fine or possibly a community penalty, but not usually custody, unless there are features which make the incident more serious, such as other offences, or any allegations of racist behaviour or motivation.
Defences to Offences of Violence
Many factors have to be considered in deciding how best to deal with this type of allegation:
* Forensics / medical evidence - are any injuries consistent with the allegations or do they go against them?
* Issues of mistaken identity
* Is self-defence available to the defendant.
we have recently had a spate of cases where persons present when an assault has occured have been dragged into the offence on the basis of joint enterprise, ie the actions of the persons committing the assault are deemed to be the actions of those present/supporting them. They must be shown to be playing and active/encouraging role, ie egging on the assault, to be guilty of the assault. We have successfully defended these clients by arguing against the principle of joint enterprise.