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

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When laws become outdated they become less effective at what they originally set out to do: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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