Non-fatal offences against the person

  • Created by: Hbrandxx
  • Created on: 04-05-19 12:54

Result-focused non fatal offences + Assault

Imperfect 'ladder', most serious at top (focus on degree of harm suffered by V)

  • Wounding with intent to cause GBH or causing GBH with intent.
  • Maliciously wounding/inflicting GBH.
  • Assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH).
  • Assault and battery.


  • Any conduct by D that intentionally/recklessly causes V to apprehend imminent unlawful personal violence.
  • AR: as soon as D causes V to apprehend/believe V is about to suffer personal violence.
  • Unlawful personal violence: any non-consensual contact: V needn't believe the 'violence' will cause serious injury and it must be immediate/imminent unlawful personal violence.
  • Subjective: law focuses on facts as V is caused to believe them to be and objective part: although facts are established from what V is caused to believe, whether belief amounts to an apprehension of imminent violence is an objective question for court.
  • Constanza 1997: assault occasioning ABH (clinial depression from letters/visits)- V was caused to apprehend violence at some point not excluding the immediate future'
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  • Can be committed by oral/written words, maybe by omission (not clarified)- D inadvertently causes V to apprehend violence and then omits to correct situation e.g. doesn't lower gun.

Mens rea of assault

  • D intends/reckless as to causing result: D must intend/foresee possibility that her act will cause V to apprehend imminent unlawful violence (Venna). 
  • D must possess appropriate MR to other offence elements: voluntary, aware V was a person.
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Battery and defences to assault/battery

  • Any conduct by which D intentionally/recklessly inflicts unlawful personal violence upon V. 
  • AR: infliction of unlawful personal violence: requires physical contact with V (even if V is unaware of the touching- Thomas 1985: D touched pupil's skirt).
  • Indirect and direct result: DPP v K (acid into hand-dryer)- indirect conduct.
  • Omissions liability requires D to have omitted in breach of a duty to act.
  • MR: Intention/recklessness as to causing result: application of unlawful force to V's body.

Defences to assault + battery

  • Lawful chastisement of children: only applies: for parents, to assault + bettery, where force used was reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances, involving no cruelty.
  • Consent to assault/battery: V's consent must be expressed/implied to D in a legally recognised manner, V's consent must be effective (V must have capacity/freedom/info required to make a choice).
  • 1.Expressed/implied consent; implied- by voluntarily moving in society, we agree to be exposed to foreseeable contact (H v CPS- teacher assault by student at special needs school, awareness of assault risk didn't amount to implied consent for attack).
  • 2.Effective consent: capacity (individual/decision-specific).
  • Informed consent: must logicallybe aware of what conduct entails before exercising capacity/decision. (Konzani- V consented to sex but not to risk of contracting HIV)
  • Fraud can undermine V's apparent consent: fraud as to identity of D, nature of conduct.
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Defences to assault/battery

Belief in consent to assault and battery

  • D can avoid liability if D believed V provided valid consent, even if belief is unreasonable.
  • Jones 1987: schoolboys threw V in air with intention to catch him but V suffered severe injuries- guilty of offence causing GBH, judge didn't allow defence of consent BUT CoA allowed appeal- consent culd have been a valid defence if V had consented or D genuinely believed V consented.
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s47 Assault occasioning actual bodily harm

OAPA s47

  • D commits assault or battery that causes V to suffer ABH: assault or battery + V suffers ABH as a result= s47 liability.
  • AR: D commits assault or battery with additional result that V suffers ABH.
  • Base offence of assault is possible as apprehension of imminent violence can cause V to hurt herself attempting to escape (ABH).
  • ABH: scratches, bruises, loss of consciousness, losing hair, psychiatric injury. 
  • Ireland and Burstow 1998: silent phone calls caused V1 to suffer psychiatric harm, Burstow charged with causing GBH after harassing V2 and causing V to suffer severe depression.
  • MR: intention/recklessness as to causing V to apprehend imminent violence and intention/recklessness as to making contact with V.
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s20 Wounding, or inflicting grievous bodily harm

OAPA s20

  • Criminalises malicious wounding and/or inflicting GBH, with at least foresight of bodily harm.
  • AR: wounding or inflicting GBH: wound involves breaking V's skin (every layer) and cannot be purely internal. Can be done by omisison if there's a duty breached e.g. fail to put knife away if kids are around.
  • Inflicting GBH: 'serious bodily harm'- broken bones/disfigurement or serious pshyciatric injuries (must be a recognised condition).
  • MR: D must act 'maliciously', intent/foresight of SOME bodily harm, not necessarily amounting wounding/GBH.
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s18 wounding, or causing grievous bodily harm with

s18 wounding OR causing GBH with intent

  • Criminalises wounding and/or causing GBH, with intention to cause GBH/resist apprehension.
  • AR: identical to s20= D's conduct caused V to suffer a wound and/or GBH.
  • MR: only satisfied by an intention (not recklessness) when D acts in order to bring about the result or acts with foresight that the result is a virtually certain consequence of her action.
  • Malice where D intends to cause GBH: less serious malice requirement, doesn't add anything.
  • Malice where D doesn't intend GBH, but does intend to resist lawful apprehension: D must foresee at least some bodily harm and foresight of GBH. Central to liability.
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Defences to s47, 20 and 18

  • Where D satisfies s47/20/18, she'll avoid liability if she has a specific defence of 'consent' OR 'belief in consent' AND can avoid liability by relying on a general defence.

Defences to base offence for s47

  • Lawful chastisement, consent, belief in consent won't ordinarly prevent liability but s47 requires assault or battery causing ABH so a defence to a simply assault or battery could act as a defence to s47 liability. 
  • Where D has caused harm necessary for s47, courts are reluctant to allow a assault/battery defence to undermine liability: D can be prevented from raising a defence to base offence by looking at foresight of causing ABH.
  • A) D causes ABH, she intended or foresaw the possiblity of causing ABH (V may've given effective consent but D's foresight that she may cause ABH means consent won't prevent s47 liability).
  • B) D causes ABH, didn't intend/foresee ABH (V's effective consent WILL prevent s.47 liability)
  • C) D causes ABH. Didn't intend/foresee ABH, although SHOULD have foreseen it (likely V's effective consent to assault/battery will NOT prevent her s.47 liability, D's negligence as to causing ABH will undermine her defence.
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Consent to the most serious offences against the p


  • Consent can be a defence to s47/20/18 offences, as well as defence elements required for consent as to assault/battery, consent to these offences are only available where D's conduct comes within what the courts are prepared to accept is an expected category. 
  • A) V's consent must be expressed/implied to D in a legally recognised manner
  • B) V's consent must be effective: V must have capacity/freedom/info to make a choice
  • C) The conduct + harms consented to must come within legally recognised category.
  • BROWN 1994: sadomasochistic homosexual groupings- charged with offences under s47/20- appeal dismissed, court set out additional requirement for consent- sadomasochism didn't qualify within one of the special categories e.g. surgery, body modification, sexual pleasure, sports.

Belief in consent to most serious offences against the person 

  • D has a defence if she believed V provided valid consent. D's belief in V's consent must've been consistent with legal requirements of being informed, effective, and within a recongised category.
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