Offences against the person

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  • Created by: Nikki
  • Created on: 17-04-15 22:47

Attempted murder

Proof of an intent to kill

Proof that D did something which was 'more than merely preparatory' towards the murder

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Wounding or causing GBH with intent

Section 18 OAPA 1861

2 forms of conduct:

- causing a wound --> an injury which breaks both the outer and inner skin

- causing GBH --> 'really serious harm'

  • does not have to be life-threatening or permanent --> can be STI with serious effects
  • seriousness may depend on victim (e.g. child) -->
  • CPS guidance 

Fault requirements

- 'with intent to cause GBH'

- 'with intent to prevent the lawful apprehension or detainer of any person' --> D only has to be reckless; consequences as serious as GBH need not have been foreseen/foreseeable

Maximum penalty = life imprisonment

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Intentionally or recklessly inflicting a wound or

Section 20 OAPA 

Conduct element similar to s18

Exact meaning of 'inflict' is controversial

Fault element

  • proof of intention
  • proof of recklessness
  • Mowatt --> no need to prove intention or recklessness as to wounding or GBH themselves so long as court is satsified that D was reckless as to some physcial harm to some person, albeit of a minor character
  • proof of recklessness requirement satisfied by proof that there was foresight on D's part that his act might cause some harm

Max penalty = 5 years imprisonment

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Aggravated assault

Assault with intent to rob --> max = life imprisonment

Assault with intent to resist arrest or to prevent lawful arrest --> s38 OAPA --> max = 2 years imprisonment

Assaulting a police officer in the execution of his or her duty --> s89 Police Act 1996 --> max penalty = same as common assault --> courts tend to give high sentences

Assault occasioning ABH which is racially or religiously aggravated

  • s28(1)(a) Crime and Disorder Act 1998 --> at time of relevant offence offender demonstrates racial or religious hostility towards V based on V's membershp of a racial or relgiious group
  • s28(1)(b) --> subjective --> committed when relevant offence is wholly or partly motivated by hostility towards members of racial or religious group based on their membership of that group
  • max penalty = 7 years
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Assault occasioning ABH

Section 47 OAPA

ABH --> wide definition

  • 'any hurt or injury calculated to interfere with health or comfort of the victim' so long as it is not merely 'transient or trifling'
  • any psychological effect must amount to psychiatric injury
  • CPS guidance

Fault requirement

  • constructive liability
  • intent or recklessness as to an imminent unlawful touhing or use of force 
  • breaches principle of correspondence

max penalty = 5 years imprisonment

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Common assault

Battery --> touching or application of unlawful force to another person

  • defined widely
  • reliance is placed on prosecutorial discretion to keep minor incident out of court
  • indirect application of force --> judicial dicta in favour of this
  • difficult to exclude everyday phsycial contact with others?

Assault --> causing apprehension of an immediate touching or application of unlawful force

  • words alone, or silent phone calls --> emphasis on intended or risked effect of what D did, rather than on precise method chosen
  • imminent? --> sufficient 'if the Crown has proved a fear of violence at some time not excluding the immediate future' (Constanza (1997))
  • Logdon v DPP --> fact that no harm was likely is immaterial since essence of offence is causing apprehension of V

Fault element --> intention or advertent recklessness as to the respective conduct elements

s39 Criminal Justice Act 1988 --> summary only 

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Protection from Harassment Act 1997

Aimed at stalking

s2 --> summary offence --> pursuing a course of conductin breach of the prohibition of harassment in s1 --> 6 months imprisonment


  • up to 5 years imprisonment
  • putting people in fear of violence 
  • fault element --> intention to cause such fear or neglgience, where 'a reasonable perosn in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct would cause the other so to fear'
  • combination of negligence standard with max penalty of 5 years is unfortunate
  • 'fear of violence' --> neither an imminence requirement nor the need to show psychiatric injury

Aggravated form of offence --> s2 rises to 2 years --> s4 rises to 7 years

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Offences under Public Order Act 1986 (1)

s1 --> riot --> use of unlawful violence by one or more persons in a group of at least 12 person who are using or threatening violence --> max penalty 12 years imprisonment

s2 --> violent disorder --> use or threat of unlawful violence in a group of at least 3 persons who are using or threatening violence --> max penalty 5 years

s3 --> affray --> threatening or using unlawful violence towards another --> max penalty 3 years

'violence' --> includes conduct intended to cause physical harm and conduct which might cause harm --> for s1 and s2 it includes violence towards property

3 aspects to note

  • violence only needs to be used by one person in the group, whilst remainder must be involved in threatening it
  • all offences can be committed on either in public or on private property
  • 'such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his perosnal safety' --> no such person needs to be present 
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Offences under Public Order Act 1986 (2)

3 summary offences

s4 --> causing fear or provocation of violence

s4A --> causing harassment, alarm or distress with intent to cause it

s5 --> causing harassment, alarm, or distress

  • necessary because of unsatisfactory state of law under OAPA 1861
  • needed to cope with 'group offending' which causes fear in ordinary citizens and extra difficulties for police and prosecutors
  • practical scheme --> smoothing pathof prosecutor e.g. need not rely on members of public to come forward and give evidence

Most prominent argument --> group activities of this kind constitute a special threat to law enforcement and that political system

  • close to constitutional paradox; article 11 ECHR; favoured concept among powerful used for political advantagea dn as means of introducing wide discretionary power sand offences defined in ways that disadvantage defence
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Administering noxious substances

OAPA 1861

s22 --> use of any overpoering drug or substance 'with intent to enable the commission of an arrestable offence' --> max sentence life

s23 --> intentional or reckless administration of any poison or noxious thing which results in danger to V's life oor GBH --> max sentence 10 years

s24 --> administration of any poison or noxious thing 'with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy the victim' --> max sentence 5 years

substance may qualify as noxious when administered in large quantity even if would be harmless in smaller dose

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Intentional infliction of severe pain or sufferin gby an official or by someone els ewith ocnsent or acquiescence of an official

Max penalty = life

Physical or mental pain

Act or omission

Marks distinctive character of official violence and gives offence wider extra-territorial effect

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Structure of non-fatal offences

More overlapping offences than is necessary

More elements of constructive liability than justifiable

'somewhat shakily constructed ladder'

factors such as existence of provocation or differene between premeditated and impulsive violence --> no legal significance

overwhelming case for reform --> (OAPA)

  • unprincipled
  • expressed in difficult language
  • may lead jduges to perpetrate manifest distortions in order to secure convictions in cases where there is 'obvious' guilt but Act falls down

Important to affirm principles of max certainty, correspondence and fair labelling, and to ensure new scheme not so dominated by concerns of effective administration

new Labout govt circulated new draft Bill but fell short in many ways

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Reform (1)

Home Office Draft Bill 1998

  • intentionally causing serious injury
  • recklessly causing serious injury
  • intentionally or recklessly causing injury
  • intentionall or recklessly causing an impact on the body of another; or causing the other to fear that such impack is imminent
  • (no constructive liability
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Reform (2)

Law Commission Scoping Paper No217 (2014)

  • principle finding = most charges of ABH (s47) are prosecuted in Magistrates' --> 5 year max sentence is irrelevant because can only impose a maximum of 6 months' imprisonment

Main suggestions

  • intentionally causing serious injury (triable offence only; Crown Court)
  • recklessly causing serious injury (triable either way)
  • intentionally or recklessly causing injury (triable either way)
  • intentionally or recklessly causing minor injury (summary only)
  • causing a physical impact inetnionally or recklessly (summary only)
  • psychic assault: ie causing an apprehension of phsycial impact intentionally or recklessly (summary only)
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Disease transmission

R v Dica (2004) --> if V does in fact consent to the risk thsi will provide a defence under s20 --> question is not knowledge but consent

R v Konzani (2005) --> concealment of HIV from V means that she is deceived and cannot give informed consent to something of which she is ignorant

R v Golding (2014) --> D knew he had herpes --> had sex with V without telling her --> V contracted herpes --> Dica was applicable and D pleaded guilty to a s20 offence --> issue arises over the risks that people can be expected to encounter without having their attention specifically directed to them

In case of disease transmissiont he consequences may be grave and all D has to do is inform V --> not to do so may seem selfish

Other alternatives

  • concentrating on deception, for purposes of criminal law, not on mere failure to disclose
  • stopping the use ofoffences against the person & creating a new offence of unlawful disease transmission
  • s24 (recklessly) administering a noxious thing --> could include a disease?
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