Offences Against The Person (Non Fatals)

Includes the Actus Reus and Mens Rea required for all of the Non Fatal offences, Assault, Battery, ABH and GBH including S20 and S18 for GBH.

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Assault

  • Common Law (not found in an Act of Parliament)
  • Summary Offence
  • Maximum sentence of 6 months in custody
  • Charged under S39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988

Assault is where the defendant intentionally or recklessly causes another person to fear unlawful immediate personal violence.

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Actus reus of Assault

The actus reus requires an act or words, an omission is never sufficient. Acts or words include raising a fist to the victim or making a verbal threat.

The act or words must cause the victim to genuinely fear that immediate force is going to be used against them. If the victim is not in fear then there is no assault.

The word immediate actually means imminently for the purposes of assault.

  • Smith

Words are sufficient for an assault and this has been extended to include silent phone calls.

  • Ireland

If the defendant makes a threat but also says something to negate the threat then this is not an assault.

  • Tuborville v Savage
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Mens rea of Assault

The Mens rea for an assault is intention to cause the victim fear or being reckless as to whether fear is caused to the victim.

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Battery

  • Common Law (not found in an Act of Parliament)
  • Summary Offence
  • Maximum sentence of 6 months in custody
  • Charged under S39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988

When Assault and Battery are charged together the actual charge is Common Assault.

Battery is the stage beyond an assault where the defendant intentionally or recklessly applied unwanted unlawful force to another.

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Actus reus of Battery

For the actus reus there must be some force.

This can be the slightest touching;

  • Dawson

It can be through a continuing act;

  • Fagan

It can also be through an indirect act;

  • DPP v K
  • Haystead
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Mens rea of Battery

The mens rea for battery is either an intention to apply unlawful force or being reckless as to whether force will be applied.

For recklessness the defendant must realise the risk of physical contact and take that risk.

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Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)

  • Statutory Law (found under S47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861)
  • Triable either way offence
  • Maximum sentence of 5 years

ABH is 'any hurt or injury calculated to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim'

This includes injuries such as a broken nose or finger and severe bruising. It also includes psychiatric injury.

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Actus reus of ABH

For the actus reus of the offence there must be an assault and or battery and this must then cause Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)

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Mens rea of ABH

The mens rea for ABH is the intention or recklessness as to causing fear of unlawful violence or applying unlawful force.

It does not need to be proven that the defendant intended or was reckless as to whether ABH was caused.

  • Roberts
  • The defendant was guilty of ABH even though he has not intended or been reckless as to causing injury.
  • Confirmed by the case of Savage
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Grevious Bodily Harm (GBH)

GBH means really serious harm bu does not need to be life threatening.

  • Bollam
  • The court of appeal held that the age and health of the victim were relevant when deciding whether an injury amounted to GBH.

A disease can also be classed as GBH.

  • Dica
  • It was accepted that passing on HIV if the defendant is HIV positive is GBH.
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S20 Malicious Wounding (GBH)

The actus reus of S20 is that the defendant wounds or INFLICTS GBH to the victim.

A wound is a cut or break in the continuity of the skin. Internal bleeding without a wound is not sufficient.

  • Eisenhower

The mens rea for S20 is that the defendant must intend to cause another harm or be reckless as to whether another suffers some harm. The defendant does not need to foresee serious injury but he must realise the risk of some injury

  • Parmenter
  • The defendant did not intend to cause harm and did not see the risk of any injury. Therefore the S20 charge was reduced to a S47.
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S18 Wounding with Intent (GBH)

  • Strict intention offence
  • Indictable Offence
  • Maximum of a life sentence

The actus reus required is that the defendant wounds or CAUSES GBH to another. The defendant must intend to wound or cause GBH.

Intention must be proven for the mens rea of a S18. Foresight of Consequences can be used to prove intention for S18.

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