Old Bailey Solicitors

Complete Legal Defense for Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) Charges

Comprehensive Criminal Defence for GBH Offences in London Sussex and Surrey

Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) is a serious criminal offence which varies in severity depending on the way in which it is charged and may be tried in either the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court. A conviction for GBH could result in a substantial custodial sentence. However, the outcome can vary significantly depending on the level of charge, the circumstances of the alleged offending, the circumstances of the alleged offender, and the quality of their legal representation. If you are under investigation or facing a prosecution for GBH, or any violent offence, contact Old Bailey Solicitors to obtain the quality legal representation required to give you the best chance of success.

Our team is made up of highly skilled and highly qualified fee-earners and support staff, who are all committed to providing comprehensive defence services to individuals facing GBH and other violent offences. We will work diligently to defend your interests and strive for the best possible outcome for your case.

What is Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)?

GBH is the most serious of non-fatal physical assaults. There are two types of GBH which are defined in Sections 18 and 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. Whilst the legislation is old, the law remains relevant and it is vital to understand the distinction if you are under investigation or facing a charge for this serious criminal offence.

Both types of GBH involve either unlawfully wounding another (i.e. the cutting of the skin) or causing really serious injury to another person. This could range from broken bones to life threatening injuries. With knife-crime having dramatically increased in recent years, GBH offences are being charged more and more often, with stabbings classifying as GBH-level injuries (wounds).

An offence of GBH may be committed intentionally which means that the resulting ‘really serious injury’ is the consequence a person wished to bring about. This is the more serious of the two GBH offences and is contained in Section 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. An offence of GBH can also be committed recklessly, where a person does not intend to cause really serious injury but realises the risk that they may cause grievous bodily harm by their actions and proceeds to take the risk anyway. Although the person did not necessarily mean or intend to cause the injury, if they acted maliciously, they may be guilty of an offence of GBH contrary to Section 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Examples of Injuries which classify as GBH

  • Fractured Bones – broken arms, legs or ribs for example.
  • Severe Lacerations – deep cuts which require stitches, surgical intervention or gluing.
  • Internal Injuries – damage to internal organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys or lungs.
  • Head Injuries – Skull fractures or traumatic brain injuries, for example.
  • Loss of limb.
  • Permanent disfigurement or paralysis.
  • Gunshot or stab wounds.
  • Serious Psychological Trauma.

Oftentimes, multiple injuries will be caused in an assault, such as significant bruising, broken bones and cuts. The total extent of the injuries caused will be considered.


Bespoke advice, when you need it the most

Our team of criminal defence specialists achieve the best possible outcome for our clients.

How can Old Bailey Solicitors help?

At Old Bailey Solicitors, we have a team of dedicated and experienced criminal defence solicitors who regularly successfully defend GBH charges. Our approach is holistic, combining thorough legal knowledge, with a compassionate understanding of the client throughout.

We appreciate that no GBH matter is the same. From the level of injury to the longer-term consequences, we appreciate that just because a potentially serious injury may have been caused, this does not determine guilt. Old Bailey Solicitors have dealt with all manner of seriousness in GBH cases, from hammer attacks, machete attacks and stabbings, to acid attacks and broken bones sustained from a fight.

We will thoroughly review the evidence against you, conducting a detailed examination of the facts and provide you with clear-cut advice on the best course of action for you. Whether it is in your best interest to plead guilty or take the matter to trial, we will guide you through the legal process, keeping you informed at every stage.


There are a number of factors that a court is required to balance when arriving at the correct sentence. This includes an assessment of the offender’s culpability and the level of harm caused as a result of their actions.

The maximum sentence in relation to Section 18 GBH is life imprisonment. Whilst life sentences are reserved for the most serious of cases and repeat offending, the consequences of a conviction for GBH can be life-changing. The starting point for sentence in relation to the most severe Section 18 GBH offences is 12 years in custody. At the lower end of the sentencing guidelines, where the severity of the offence is lesser, an offence could attract a starting point of 3 years in custody.

The difference in sentence for a Section 18 and a Section 20 GBH is vast, with a Section 20 GBH offence carrying a maximum of 5 years imprisonment. The considerable difference in maximum sentence length between the two GBH offences reflects the difference in culpability, namely, the lack of intention to cause really serious harm. For a Section 20 GBH offence, the most severe cases will attract a 4-year period of imprisonment starting point, whereas at the lower end of the sentencing guidelines, for a less severe offence, the starting point is reduced to 26-weeks imprisonment.

A number of factors will influence where any given sentence may fall on the sentencing guidelines. For a comprehensive overview of these factors, please refer to: Same Harm, Different Sentence- How Section 18 and Section 20 GBH differ – Old Bailey Solicitors (oblaw.co.uk)

Why choose Old Bailey Solicitors for your GBH Defence?

When facing a charge as serious as GBH, the choice of your legal representatives can make all the difference. At Old Bailey Solicitors, we pride ourselves on our meticulous attention to detail, client-focused approach, and proven track record in successfully defending violent offences, offences where serious harm is caused and circumstances of mistaken identity in serious violent crime.

Our team is not only highly skilled in the intricacies of defending serious violent offences, but also deeply committed to upholding your rights and freedoms. We leverage our extensive network of experts, from forensic scientists to medical professionals, where necessary, to build a robust defence strategy tailored to your unique circumstances.

We appreciate that having done an act might not mean you are guilty of an offence. Whether you have acted in self-defence in a glass attack, or been threatened with a knife, each case has its intricacies and nuances. We will stand by you and give expert-tailored advice to assist you through a daunting legal process.

Old Bailey Solicitors have been exceptional in handling my case and making it as worry free as possible for me. Old Bailey Solicitors assisted me through every step of my case and went above and beyond expectations to achieve an outcome in the Crown Court which avoided a custodial sentence, for this I am very grateful.

Case dropped

What constitutes Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) in the UK?Read more

In the UK, GBH means that an assault has caused serious physical (or in some rare cases, serious psychiatric) harm, although it is not necessary for this harm to be permanent. For example, a broken bone can amount to GBH, whether or not it is an injury that will fully heal in time. Factors such as whether medical treatment is significant or sustained is likely to be taken into consideration when considering whether an assault amounts to an ABH or GBH. 

GBH is a serious offence in the UK and an offence under s18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 carries a sentence range between 2 years’ and 16 years’ in custody. It is therefore crucial that you obtain the correct legal representation for your case. If you have been accused of GBH, make sure to contact Old Bailey Solicitors on 0207 8464 999 or at [email protected]

Can self-defence be used as a defence in a GBH case?Read more

Yes, self-defence can be used as a defence in GBH cases, as long as it can be proved that you had an honest belief in the threat or circumstances which caused you to act and that the force you used was reasonable and proportionate in relation to these circumstances. The defence of self-defence is for the Defendant to raise, but it is for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this was not the case. If you believe that you have the defence of self-defence, it is important to instruct the right legal representation for your case to successfully advance your defence. If you have been accused of GBH, contact Old Bailey Solicitors on 0207 8464 999 or at [email protected]

Can GBH charges be reduced or dismissed?Read more

Yes, in some cases it is possible for GBH charges to either be reduced to a lesser offence or dismissed altogether. For instance, in cases where the harm caused is unclear, it is sometimes possible for the offence to be reduced to an ABH (Actual Bodily Harm). It is also possible for GBH charges to be reduced from a s18 offence (GBH with intent to cause serious injury) to a s20 offence (causing GBH without intent). To obtain advice on whether or not your case stands a chance of being dismissed or to negotiate a lesser offence, you must discuss your case with a criminal defence solicitor and obtain the correct representation. If you have been accused of GBH, make sure to contact Old Bailey Solicitors on 0207 8464 999 or at [email protected]

What are the sentences associated with a GBH conviction?Read more

GBH is one of the most serious offences and as such can carry significant sentences. In the case of a s18 GBH offence, sentences can range between 2 years and 16 years. For the reduced offence of GBH without intent, a s20 offence sentence can range between a medium-level community order and a 4 years 6 month custodial sentence. It is important to obtain the correct legal representation in order to be able to effectively put forward any available mitigation you might have to ensure you get the best sentence possible. If you have been accused or convicted of GBH, contact Old Bailey Solicitors on 0207 84646 999 or at [email protected]

What factors are considered when determining the severity of a GBH offence?Read more

When considering the severity of a GBH offence, the Court will take into account a number of factors. Perhaps the most significant factor will be whether or not it is found that you caused the grievous bodily harm with intent or not. This issue of ‘intent’ is the factor which will result in the differentiation between a s20 GBH, which is an either-way offence carrying a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and a s18 GBH, which is an indictable only offence carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Other factors which are likely to be considered when determining the severity of a GBH offence include the level of planning of the offence, whether or not a weapon was used and the vulnerability of the victim.

Whether charged as a s18 or a s20 offence, GBH is a serious crime and you must instruct the right legal defence team to help you defend your case. If you are charged with a GBH offence, contact Old Bailey Solicitors on 0207 8464 999 or at [email protected]

Talk To Us About Your Case