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Consider what criticisms may be made of the non-fatal offences against the
person. Discuss what reforms might be introduced to deal with these.
There are many criticisms of the non-fatal offences (NFOs). The Offences
against a Person Act bring many criticisms such as the date the act was created
which is 1861. The act is around 150 years old and within those years, society
and the common law has majorly developed so the OAPA is out dated. Which
brings another criticism of the OAPA which is that the language in the act is
very old, and many of the words such as `grievous' and `maliciously' are not
commonly used anymore so they have to be interpreted by judges to develop
a modern day meaning. As well as the OAPA being out dated, the order of the
act is very illogical as there is no clear structure. The offences are not
numbered in order of severity, for example, s.20 is not as severe as s.18. In
order to overcome this, the government has published a draft Offences against
the Person Bill which is aimed to replace the current offences such as s.39, s.47,
s.20 and s.18. Both issues addressed will be improved in this new act is passed.
There will be four clauses, starting with clause 1 which will outline intention to
cause serious injury to another, moving up to clause 4 which will replace s.39.
Here, the offences will be ordered in severity with clause 1 being the most
serious and the language used is modern so can be understood by judges and
Another issue that has been highlighted is that it is illogical that wounding,
defined as breaking two layers of skin (Eisenhower), could be a pin prick
however, it will be treated as serious as grievous bodily harm. If someone
intended to give another person a pin prick and it cut two layers of their skin
then under the present law, it would be treated as s.18 and the defendant could
get life in jail. Although when brought to the courts, the defendant would only
be charged of battery s.39 or ABH s.47 the law states that the defendant should
be guilty of s.18. The proposed law reform would prevent this as the defendant
would be liable for clause 3(1) which states that a person is guilty of an offence
if they recklessly of intentionally causes injury to another person. This is a lot
more logical and the maximum time in prison they could gain is 5 years.
S.47 and s.20 have also been criticised as they both have a maximum sentence
of 5 years and then the next offence up in severity of s.18, the maximum
sentence for this is life imprisonment. This does not seem reasonable as s.20 is
a more serious offence than s.47 so why should they have the same sentence?
Under the draft Offences against the Person Bill, the 4 clauses all have
different maximum prison sentences which resolve the issue in the present law.
Clarkson has also criticised s.20 by saying that the mens rea is foreseeing the
risk of some bodily harm, however slight. However, he stated that the mens rea
and actus reus should match up, like with s.39 and s.18, however here, `half
mens rea seems unjustifiable.' In the government's 1988 Offences against the
Person Bill, existing offences were replaced with `simple and straightforward
new offences.' This means that the motive for the offence and the outcome of
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This could help with the issue of
the mens rea of s.20.
There has been a lot of criticism of s.47 ABH and the case of Savage. The issues
with the mens rea of s.47 are that the mens rea of assault or battery is
sufficient for the defendant to be criminally liable for s.47.…read more