Share:

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google Plus
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Criminal law: Non-fatal offences

Learn more about non-fatal offences, how they are defined and the punishment for each. Read our example essays to create ideas for your own work.

Assualt

This offence is committed when the victim suffers immediate fear, panic or distress as a result of the defendant’s conduct. These are all minor injuries and no medical treatment is likely to be needed. It was made an offence by section 39 Criminal Justice Act 1988. It is a summary offence which means it can only be tried in the magistrate’s court. It has a maximum penalty of 6 months imprisonment and/or £5000 fine.

The actus reus of the offence is causing the victim immediate fear, panic or distress. This can be done by the defendant:

o saying something,

o taking an action such as pointing a gun or other weapon,

o staring at the victim,

o stalking the victim,

o making silent phone calls or by saying something in a phone call,

o using other messaging forms.

The mens rea of the offence is either intentionally or recklessly causing the victim immediate fear, panic or distress.

Battery

This offence is committed when the victim suffers minor injury as a result of the defendant causing unlawful personal violence. Typical injuries will be cuts and bruises when no medical treatment is needed. It was made an offence by section 39 Criminal Justice Act 1988. It is a summary offence which means it can only be tried in the magistrate’s court. It has a maximum penalty of 6 months imprisonment and/or £5000 fine.

The actus reus is causing unlawful personal violence to the victim either directly or indirectly. Direct application of force is when the defendant touches the victim or even just their clothes.

Indirect application of force is when there is no direct contact but the victim is still injured. This can be done by the defendant throwing an object which hits the victim or spraying the victim with a liquid.

The mens rea of the offence is either intentionally or recklessly causing the victim unlawful personal violence which results in minor injury.

Assault occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)

This offence is committed when the victim suffers an injury needing medical attention, either as a result of an assault or a battery. It was made an offence by section 47 Offences Against the Person Act 1861. It is an either-way offence, which means it can be tried in either the Magistrate’s Court or the Crown Court at the defendant’s choice. It has a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

The actus reus is either:

o causing the victim fear panic or distress which amount to actual bodily harm (ABH), or

o causing unlawful personal violence which amounts to actual bodily harm.

The defendant cannot be charged with just actual bodily harm. An assault or a battery has to be proved and that the victim suffered more serious injury.

The mens rea of the offence is either intentionally or recklessly assaulting the victim which amounts to ABH or causing the victim unlawful personal violence which amounts to ABH.

Malicious wounding and wounding with intent - s20 and s18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861

These offences are committed when the victim suffers serious injury.

Section 20 Offences Against the Person Act 1861 is an either-way offence to be tried in either the Magistrate’s Court or the Crown Court at the defendant’s choice. It has a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

Section 18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861 is a more serious offence than s20. It is an indictable offence.

The actus reus of both offences is either:

o wounding the victim – this is a serious external injury such as a cut, burn or scald, or

o causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) – this is a serious internal injury such as a broken bone or internal bleeding.

The prosecution have to charge the correct version of the offence – either wounding or GBH depending on the injury caused.

The mens rea of section 20 is either intentionally or recklessly causing some harm to the victim. The mens rea of section 18 is intentionally causing a wound or GBH to the victim