‘Assault’ is a broad term which encompasses several offences which have different levels of seriousness. At Rees Clayton Solicitors, we believe no assault allegation should be faced alone. Our criminal defence team specialise in providing the best advice catered to your individual case.
- The most serious offence is governed by Section 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. It is the wounding or causing of grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent. This offence requires serious bodily harm. For instance, an injury which causes bleeding, wounding or breaking a bone would constitute GBH. It is an indicatable offence, meaning it will be tried at the Crown Court. The maximum penalty for this assault is life imprisonment.
- The next offence, according to Section 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, is an infliction of grievous bodily harm (GBH) or wounding. The injury required is the same of a s18 offence. However, the difference is that there is no intention to cause serious injury. If you are accused of this offence, your case will likely be heard at the Crown Court. A conviction under this offence carries a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.
- Following the hierarchy of assault offences, the next is governed by Section 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. It is an assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH). ABH must involve an injury that is worse than grazing or bruising. This offence is triable either way, meaning that the charge can be tried at either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. This depends on the seriousness of the injury. If tried at the Magistrates Court, the penalty for ABH is 6 months imprisonment. If the injury is more serious, however, the Crown Court can impose a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.
- Assault is not always physical, for the least serious offence which is common assault, to cause fear of immediate unlawful violence is sufficient for the offence. This is governed by Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. It is a summary offence, which means it will be tried at the Magistrates Court. It carries a standard Level 5 fine, which gives the court a discretion to impose an unlimited fine, and a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment.
There are several defences that can be raised against assault charges. In the instance of common assault, if consent exists between two parties – there cannot be an assault because there is an absence of fear of unlawful violence. Another can also be raised if a person has acted with reasonable force to defend themselves, defend their property or property belonging to another, to prevent crime and or to lawfully arrest an individual.
We understand that an accusation of any offence of assault can be difficult and harder without first-rate representation. Do not hesitate to contact the criminal defence team at Rees Clayton Solicitors – on 01282 678767 / 0330 053 6767 or contact us online.