Non-Fatal Offences

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Non-Fatal Offences Against The Person
A variety of offences exist where D commits an offence against another person, which does not result in
death. These offences reflect differing degrees of injury caused to the victim and the nature of mens rea
that the defendant has.
1. Assault ­ s39 Criminal Justice Act 1988
2. Battery ­ s.39 Criminal Justice Act 1988
3. Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm ­ s.47 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
4. Inflicting Grievous Bodily Harm ­ s.20 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
5. Malicious Wounding ­ s.20 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
6. Causing GBH with Intent ­ s.18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
7. Wounding with Intent ­ s.18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
The Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (OAPA) consolidated a wide range of non-fatal offences into the one
statute. The sections that you will need to be aware of are: s.47, s.20 and s.18.
Common Assault and Battery
Although these are often mentioned together as though they were one crime, assault is a separate offence to battery.
DPP v. Little (1992)
A single charge of `unlawful assault and battery' was to be charged as two offences and was used
wrongly. They need to be charged separately.
There is a conflict between the `ordinary' meaning and the legal meaning of assault ­ for the purposes of the offences
they will be outlined below.
Mens Rea
The mens rea for both of the offences is either intention or recklessness. The test for recklessness is subjective. I.e.
the defendant has to foresee a risk of causing fear to another or apply force to them.
They are both considered offences of basic intent.
DPP v. Majewski
D, who had taken drink and drugs, attacked the landlord of a pub and police officers.
Getting drunk is a reckless course of conduct and is sufficient for the mens rea of assault.
Actus Reus
Technical Assault
Although a common law offence, defendants are charged under s.39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (CJA)
A technical assault is thought of as a psychic offence and has the definition of:
"Intentionally or recklessly causing the victim to apprehend immediate and unlawful force or violence."
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It must be an act, not an omission and is defined as:
Apprehension [of]
Immediate Force
Apprehension
The victim must APPREHEND FORCE, not be put into fear, although this word is generally used to describe the state.
Lamb (1967)
D and V were fooling around with a revolver with 2 rounds in. Unknowing to them, the cylinder turns as a
shot is fired. D pointed it at V, pulled the trigger and killed V.
V must APPREHEND FORCE ­ not be put into fear.…read more

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Tuberville v. Savage (1669)
D put his hand on the hilt of his sword and said "Were it not assize time, I would not take such language
from you."
Words can prevent an act from becoming a technical assault, but it depends on the circumstances.
Light (1857)
D raised his sword above his wife's head and said "Were it not for the bloody policeman outside I would
split your head open.…read more

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Although no one was hurt in the case, if someone had been injured by falling plaster, or by some other freak accident
­ Miller could be guilty of battery for not calling the fire brigade.
DPP v. Santana Bermudez (2003)
D failed to tell a policewoman that he had a needle in his pocket ­ she was injured when she searched
him.
An omission is sufficient for the actus reus of a battery.
Unlawful Force
Force may be lawful if consent is given.…read more

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Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)
"Whosoever shall be convicted on indictment of any assault occasioning actual bodily harm shall be liable to
imprisonment for not more than five years."
Offences Against the Person Act 1861, Section 47
Actus Reus
There have been a number of cases which comment on what constitutes Actual Bodily Harm. Further evidence of this
can be seen in the CPS Charging Standards later.…read more

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Mens Rea of s.47
The mens rea for s.47 ABH is intention or recklessness as to the assault ­ the same as for common assault. The
defendant does NOT however have to have the mens rea for the ABH. They have to foresee the amount of damaged
which may be caused by their actions.
Roberts (1971)
V jumped from a moving car to escape Ds sexual advances.…read more

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Wounding and Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)
"Unlawfully and maliciously wound or inflict grievous bodily harm on another person."
Offences Against the Person Act 1861, Section 20
From this definition it is possible to deduce the two offences:
Malicious Wounding
Inflicting GBH
Mens Rea
The mens rea for s.20 offences is `maliciously.' We know that this means that the offence is one of basic intent and
that intention or subjective recklessness are both acceptable.…read more

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Saunders (1985)
D hit V, giving him a broken nose and other injuries for no apparent reason.
When directing a jury, it is permissible to omit the `really' and call it `serious harm'.
Bollom (2004)
A 17-month-old child had severe bruising on her abdomen, both arms, and left leg.
The severity of the injuries should be assessed according to V's age and health.
Psychiatric Injury
Same rules apply to GBH as to ABH regarding psychiatric injury and the levels required.…read more

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Wounding or GBH with Intent
"Unlawfully and maliciously by any means whatsoever wound or cause grievous bodily harm to any other person
with intent to do some grievous bodily harm... or with intent to resist or prevent the lawful apprehension or detainer
of any person."
Offences Against the Person Act 1861, Section 18
From this definition four offences can be listed. Each carries a sentence of up to life imprisonment.…read more

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Actus Reus
This can be either by a wounding, or GBH. Causation must be established as with any offence, and is particularly
important in cases involving psychiatric injury.
Burstow (1997)
V suffered clinical depression as a result of being constantly telephoned, written to and followed by her
ex-boyfriend.
`Bodily harm' in ss.18, 20, and 47 must be interpreted as to include recognisable psychiatric illnesses.
Ireland (1998)
D made silent telephone calls to V.
`Inflict bodily harm' includes the affliction of psychiatric harm on another.…read more

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