Non Fatal Offences Handout

In this Handout you will find all of the notes for non-fatal offences. I felt that with that I should also place the two defences: consent and self-defence. The reason for this is that they can be asked about in the OCR Criminal Law Module. Hope it helps.

P.s. I know they are not colourful, but make them your own!

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Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person.
Common Assault.
There are two ways of committing this offence: assault and battery. These are common law offences
but are recognised and charged under s.39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
Under this section it is stated that the maximum punishment is 6 months imprisonment and/or £5,000
Assault: "an act causing the victim to apprehend the infliction of immediate, unlawful force. This
can include either intention to cause fear of immediate unlawful violence or recklessness as to
whether such fear is caused".
Battery: "The application of unlawful force to another person intending either to apply unlawful
physical force to another or recklessness as to whether unlawful force is applied".
Assault (Actus Reus).
There must be an act which causes the victim to apprehend the infliction of immediate, unlawful
It is also referred to as psychic assault or technical assault.
An assault requires some act or words an omission is not sufficient. The words can either be verbal or
written - Constanza (1997): D sent V 800 letters and called numerous times, on the last two
occasions V interpreted the letters as threats. CoA stated that was an assault as there was a "fear of
violence at some time". In Island (1997) it was held silent phone calls could be an assault depending
on the circumstances.
The act or words must cause the victim to apprehend that immediate force is going to be used
against them. An assault is not caused if it is obvious that the defendant cannot actually use force.
Lamb (1967) ­ pointing an unloaded gun and someone with the knowledge that it is not loaded
cannot be an assault as the victim does not fear immediate force.
Immediate means "imminent" not instantaneous ­ this means an assault can go through a close
window as shown in Smith v Chief Superintendent of Working Police Stating (1983) ­ D broke into
someone's back garden and looked through a window. The V feared that D would enter the room,
but due to them being outside this would not happen immediately. The courts held that V feared
what would happen next, which was likely to be violence. Fear of what might happen next was
Words showing there will be no violence will not be an assault ­ Tubrville v Savage (1669): D placed
hand on sword and state that he would not attack the V. it was held not be an assault due to him
stating that he would not do anything. However, the depends on the circumstances as shown in Light
(1857) where D raised a sword to his wife's throat and stated that if it were "not for the bloody
policeman outside, I would split your head open". This was held to not be enough to not negate the
fear of attack and so was still an assault.
The force or unlawful personal violence need not be serious e.g. unwanted touching. Raising a fist,
throwing a stone that misses, pointing a loaded gun at someone, stating that you are going to hit
someone... all constitute to an assault.
The force that is threatened must be unlawful.
Battery (Actus Reus).
The actus reus is the application of unlawful force to another person. This force can be the slightest
touching of an individual ­ Collins v Wilcock (1984): Two police officers saw woman soliciting on the
Jamie Cockcroft. Criminal Law.

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Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person.
street and asked them to get into the car for questioning, one refused and walked away. A police
officer followed and asked for her identity, she refused to answer and walked away. He grabbed
her arm. She scratched his arm in order to get away and was found liable for assaulting a police
officer in the execution of his duty. However, she appealed on the basis that he was acting unlawfully
by holding her arm and no arresting her.…read more

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Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person.
Court of Human Rights. However, as long as the judge in such a case directs the jury to taken account
of the nature, context and duration of force as well as the physical and mental effect it had on the
child and the reasons for the punishment. Then correct of a child can occur.
Battery can occur without an assault.
Mens Rea of Assault and Battery.…read more

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Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person.
Courts have held that the mens rea for common assault applies to section 47.
The D must intent or be reckless as to whether the victim fears or is subjected to unlawful force.…read more

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Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person.
and D was charged with s.20. This means that the it need only be shown that the D's actions led to
the consequence of the V suffering GBH. This also shows little difference between the actus reus of
the offences under s.20 and s.18 and Lord Hope stated that for practical purposes no difference can
be found between the word cause or inflict.
Mens Rea.
S.…read more

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Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person.
window where he jumped, she was cut by the glass. The CoA stated that the word "maliciously" in
respect of this part of the section took the same meaning as that of Cunningham (1957). This means
that the prosecution need only prove that D intended injury or realised there was a risk and took it
Charging Standards.
When deciding the level of an offence to charge the Crown Prosection refer to the "Charging
Standards" document.…read more

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Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person.
Problems and Reforms.
The current law is in an unsatisfactory state and proposals of reform have come from the Criminal
Law Revision Committee and the Law Commission. The Law Commission illustrated three problems
with the OAPA (1861):
o It uses complicated, obscure and old fashioned language such as the words "maliciously" and
o The structure of the statute is complicated.
o Non-lawyers believe the act is unintelligible.…read more

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Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person.
strong evidence to assess the force used in the circumstances. However, if the danger is gone then
the defence cannot be raised.
The D should be judged on the facts as he belieed them to be. In Williams (1987) the CoA held that
the jury should be told that they should judge the defendant according to his genuine mistake
regardless of whether the mistake was reasonable or not.…read more

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Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person.
during a sexual act caused a consenting woman to get blood poisoning as his ring caused a cut. She
died. However, due to her consent there was no battery and so no unlawful act; therefore he was
not liable of manslaughter.
There must a true consent this was illustrated in Tabassum (2000) when a man asked women if he
could measure their breast for the purpose of preparing a medical database.…read more

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Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person.
Another exception is in the case of medical procedures. If the surgeon must save an individual's life
during surgery then consent will be a defence to a charge of assault.
The decisions in Brown (1994) and Willson (1997) contradict one another and appear to suggest that
the courts favour heterosexual relationships over homosexual relationships. This is because in Brown
it was held that consent could not be a defence to sadomasochistic behaviour between consenting
adults.…read more


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