Evaluation of Non-Fatal offences

A review of some of the points to put in an essay for the third question on an AQA LAW03 Paper

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Structure of the Essay

There are four distinctive sections to an essay to answer this type of question:

  • Language
  • Structure
  • Effectiveness
  • Reform
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The language in the act can be put down to several specific words. Not all of these can go into the essay in the time allowed:

  • Grievious - contextual meaning
  • Malicious - to a lay person means evil but doesn't in law
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Bodily Harm
  • Inflict 
  • Cause
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There are a number of structural issues with the OAPA 1861 which are cause for concern:

  • Original purpose - consolidating legislation
  • Definitions - for many terms are missing
  • Interpretations - are in some cases extensive (especially regarding MR)
  • ABH / GBH - no clear distinctions and have similar punishments (s47 & s20)
  • GBH s20 / s18 - no clear distinctions with massive differences in punishment
  • Wounding - an oblique term and doesn't have its own section
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When laws become outdated they become less effective at what they originally set out to do:

  • The OAPA is over 150 years old and thus does not reflect modern needs of society
  • Technological advances - assault over social media or via text message wouldn't be considered in 1861
  • Psychological harm - is know more widely known about and can be ABH (R v Ireland)
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In 1993 the Law commission suggested some changes which were published by the Home Office in 1998 entitled: Violence - Reforming the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 which included a draft bill which suggested the following changes:

  • Assault and battery to be added to statutory law
  • s47 reformed to 'recklessley or inentionally causing injury to another
  • s20 would be recklessly causing serious injury to another with a max sentence of 7 years
  • s18 would be intentionally causing serious injury to anotehr with a maximum sentence of life
  • Wounding to be removed as well as 'cause' and 'inflict' difficulties.
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