Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)
Section 47 of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 creates the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
ABH is an either way offence which means it can be tried in either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. Some forms of ABH are considered more serious than others depending on the harm caused. Factors which may make the offence more serious are:
- The use of a weapon likely to cause serious injury
- A weapon is used and serious injury is in fact caused
- More than minor injury caused by kicking or head-butting
- Serious violence caused to those whose work has to be done in contact with the public
- Violence is caused to vulnerable people
- The assault had a clear motive.
The maximum sentence for a single count of ABH in the Magistrates is 6 months. The maximum sentence in the Crown Court is 5 years imprisonment. ABH may also be charged in a racially aggravated form which attracts the higher maximum sentence of 7 years.
ACTUAL BODILY HARM (ABH) – THE OFFENCE
The offence must involved an assault or battery and it must have caused the victim actual bodily harm. It doesn’t matter if the harm caused is an indirect result of the assault, namely by scaring someone to the extent that they injure themselves e.g. by jumping from a moving car.
Actual Bodily Harm is defined as any injury which is calculated to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim. Minor cuts and bruises or a brief loss of consciousness would be considered as ABH but most often requires slightly more serious injuries such as broken teeth or extensive cuts and bruising. A recognised psychiatric illness may amount to ABH as long as it is shown that the defendant’s actions caused the illness.
The assault may be committed either intentionally or recklessly. There is no requirement that the defendant foresaw the injury caused simply that they carried out the assaultÂ which resulted in the harm.
CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYERS
Old Baileys Solicitors have extensive experience of defending the full range of violent criminal offences ranging from simple common assaults all the way to Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent (GBH) and Murder.
If you or a loved one has been charged or arrested for any criminal offence please contact us for advice from an expert criminal defence team of lawyers. If you have a friend or loved on who is remanded into custody we can arrange a visit to prison to discuss their case. If they already have criminal defence solicitors and you are not happy with the way they are handling the case we can take over conduct.