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Encyclopedia > Actual bodily harm
Criminal law in English law
Part of the common law series
Classes of crimes
Summary  · Indictable
Hybrid offence  · Regulatory offences
Lesser included offence
Elements of crimes
Actus reus  · Causation
Mens rea  · Intention (general)
Intention in English law  · Recklessness
Criminal negligence  · Corporate liability
Vicarious liability  · Strict liability
Omission  · Concurrence
Ignorantia juris non excusat
Inchoate offences
Incitement  · Conspiracy
Accessory  · Attempt
Common purpose
Defences
Consent  · Diminished responsibility
Duress
M'Naghten Rules  · Necessity
Provocation
Self-defence
Crimes against the person
Common assault  · Battery
Actual bodily harm  · Grievous bodily harm
Offences Against The Person Act 1861
Murder  · Manslaughter
Corporate manslaughter  · Harassment
Public order and crimes against property
Criminal Damage Act 1971
Malicious Damage Act 1861
Public nuisance
Crimes of dishonesty
Theft Act 1968  · Theft  · Dishonesty
Robbery  · Burglary  · TWOC
Deception  · Deception offences
Blackmail  · Handling
Theft Act 1978  · Forgery
Computer crime
Sexual crimes
Rape  · Kidnapping
Crimes against justice
Bribery  · Perjury
Obstruction of justice
See also Criminal Procedure
Criminal Defences
Other areas of the common law
Contract law  · Tort law  · Property law
Wills and trusts  · Evidence
Portals: Law  · Criminal justice

Actual Bodily Harm (often abbreviated to ABH) is a type of criminal assault defined under English law. It encompasses those assaults which result in injuries, typically requiring a degree of medical treatment of the victim. The offence is defined in s47 Offences Against The Person Act 1861 and it is a hybrid offence, i.e. it can be tried in either the Magistrates' Court or Crown Court. There is a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment (or 7 years if it is racially motivated). Image File history File links Scale_of_justice. ... English law is a formal term of art that describes the law for the time being in force in England and Wales. ... This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... In many common law jurisdictions (e. ... A hybrid offence or dual offence are the special offences in Canadian criminal law where the prosecution may choose whether to proceed with a summary offence or an indictment. ... Regulatory offences are a class of crime in which the standard for proving culpability has been lowered so as not to require any fault elements. ... A lesser included offense, in criminal law, is a crime for which all of the elements necessary to impose liability are also elements found in a more serious crime. ... Actus reus is the action (or inaction, in the case of criminal negligence and similar crimes which are sometimes called acts of omission) which, in combination with the mens rea (guilty mind), produces criminal liability in common law based criminal law jurisdictions such as the United States, United Kingdom. ... In law, causation is the name given to the process of testing whether defendants should be fixed with liability for the outcome to their acts and omissions that injure or cause loss to others. ... The mens rea is the Latin term for guilty mind used in the criminal law. ... In the criminal law, intention is one of the three general classes of mens rea necessary to constitute a conventional as opposed to strict liability crime. ... In English criminal law, intention is one of the types of mens rea (Latin for guilty mind) that, when accompanied by an actus reus (Latin for guilty act) constitutes a crime. ... In the criminal law, recklessness (sometimes also termed willful blindness which may have a different meaning in the United States) is one of the three possible classes of mental state constituting mens rea (the Latin for guilty mind). To commit an offence of ordinary as opposed to strict liability, the... Criminal negligence, in the realm of criminal common law, is a legal term of art for a state of mind which is careless, inattentive, neglectful, willfully blind, or reckless; it is the mens rea part of a crime which, if occurring simultaneously with the actus reus, gives rise to criminal... In the criminal law, corporate liability determines the extent to which a corporation as a fictitious person can be liable for the acts and omissions of the natural persons it employs. ... The legal principle of vicarious liability applies to hold one person liable for the actions of another when engaged in some form of joint or collective activity. ... In criminal law, strict liability is liability where mens rea (Latin for guilty mind) does not have to be proved in relation to one or more elements comprising the actus reus (Latin for guilty act) although intention, recklessness or knowledge may be required in relation to other elements of the... In the criminal law, an omission or failure to act will constitute an actus reus (Latin for guilty act) and give rise to liability only when the law imposes a duty to act and the defendant is in breach of that duty. ... For other uses, see concurrency. ... It has been suggested that presumed knowledge of the law be merged into this article or section. ... An inchoate offence is a crime. ... In English criminal law, incitement is an anticipatory common law offence and is the act of persuading, encouraging, instigating, pressuring, or threatening so as to cause another to commit a crime. ... In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more natural persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement. ... An accessory is a person who assists in or conceals a crime, but does not actually participate in the commission of the crime. ... The crime of attempt occurs when a person does an act amounting to more than mere preparation for a criminal offense, with specific intent to commit a crime, if that act tends but fails to effect the commission of the offense intended. ... In criminal law, the doctrine of common purpose, common design or joint enterprise refers to the situation where two or more people embark on a project with a common purpose that results in the commission of a crime. ... Categories: | ... For the law in other criminal jurisdictions, see diminished responsibility. ... For a general discussion of the principles, see duress In English law, duress is a defence which allows a limited excuse in favour of those who commit crimes because they are forced or compelled to do so against their will by the threats of another. ... The MNaghten Rules are used to establish insanity as an excuse to potential criminal liability, but the definitional criteria establish insanity in the legal and not the psychological sense. ... For the discussion on general principles and policy, see necessity In English law, the defence of necessity recognises that there may be situations of such an overwhelming urgency, that a person must be allowed to respond by breaking the law. ... For an description of the general principles, see provocation (legal). ... In English criminal law, the defence of self-defence provides for the right of people to act in a manner that would be otherwise unlawful in order to preserve the physical integrity of themselves or others or to prevent any crime. ... In criminal law, a common assault is a crime when the defendant either puts another in fear of injury or actually commits a battery. ... In many common law jurisdictions, the crime of battery involves an injury or other contact upon the person of another in a manner likely to cause bodily harm. ... Grievous bodily harm or GBH is a phrase used in English criminal law which was introduced in ss18 and 20 Offences Against The Person Act 1861. ... This page is a candidate to be copied to Wikisource. ... Corporate manslaughter is a term in English law for an act of homicide committed by a company. ... Harassment refers to a wide spectrum of offensive behavior. ... Under English law, the Criminal Damage Act 1971 is the main statute covering damage to property. ... The Malicious Damage Act of 1861 is a law now mostly concerned with damage to property in the transport sector of society. ... Nuisance is a common law tort. ... The Theft Act 1968 (1968 c. ... Everyday instance of theft: the bike which fits on this wheel has disappeared. ... Dishonesty is a term which in common usage may be defined as the act of being dishonest; to act without honesty; a lack of probity, to cheat, lying or being deliberately deceptive; lacking in integrity; to be knavish, perfidious, corrupt or treacherous; charlatanism or quackery. ... TWOC is an acronym standing for Taken Without Owners Consent. ... For the purposes of English law, deception is defined in s15(4) Theft Act 1968 and applies to the deception offences in the Theft Act 1968, and to the Theft Act 1978 and the Theft (Amendment) Act 1996. ... In English law, the main deception offences are defined in the Theft Act 1968 (TA68), the Theft Act 1978 and the Theft (Amendment) Act 1996. ... For other uses, see Blackmail (disambiguation). ... A cars handling is a description of the way the car performs, particularly during cornering. ... The Theft Act 1978 supplemented the earlier deception offences contained in ss15 and 16 Theft Act 1968 by reforming some aspects of those offences and adding new provisions. ... Forgery is the process of making or adapting objects or documents (see false document), with the intention to deceive. ... Computer Crime, Cybercrime, E-Crime, Hi-Tech Crime or Electronic Crime generally refers to criminal activity where a computer or network is the tool, target, or place of a crime. ... Bribery is a crime implying a sum or gift given alters the behaviour of the person in ways not consistent with the duties of that person. ... Perjury is the act of lying or making verifiably false statements on a material matter under oath or affirmation in a court of law or in any of various sworn statements in writing. ... Modern Obstruction of Justice, in a common law state, refers to the crime of offering interference of any sort to the work of police, investigators, regulatory agencies, prosecutors, or other (usually government) officials. ... Criminal procedure refers to the legal process for adjudicating claims that someone has violated the criminal law. ... A contract is any promise or set of promises made by one party to another for the breach of which the law provides a remedy. ... In the common law, a tort is a civil wrong for which the law provides a remedy. ... Property law is the area of law that governs the various forms of ownership in real property (land as distinct from personal or movable possessions) and in personal property, within the common law legal system. ... In the common law, a will or testament is a document by which a person (the testator) regulates the rights of others over his property or family after death. ... The law of trusts and estates is generally considered the body of law which governs the management of personal affairs and the disposition of property of an individual in anticipation and the event of such persons incapacity or death, also known as the law of successions in civil law. ... The law of evidence governs the use of testimony (e. ... English law is the law of England and Wales, rather than Scotland and Northern Ireland. ... This page is a candidate to be copied to Wikisource. ... A hybrid offence or dual offence are the special offences in Canadian criminal law where the prosecution may choose whether to proceed with a summary offence or an indictment. ... Bedford Magistrates Court A Magistrates Court or court of petty sessions, formerly known as a police court, is the lowest level of court in England and Wales and many other common law jurisdictions. ... Crown Court and County Court in Oxford. ... In law, a sentence forms the final act of a judge-ruled process, and also the symbolic principal act connected to his function. ... Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick, Canada is an institution that is part of Corrections Canada. ... Manifestations Slavery · Racial profiling Hate speech · Hate crime Lynching · Gay bashing Genocide · Holocaust Ethnocide · Ethnic cleansing Pogrom · Race war Religious persecution Movements Discriminatory Aryanism · Neo-Nazism White/Black supremacy Asian · Latino Radical Islam · Fundamentalism Hate groups · Kahanism Anti-discriminatory Abolitionism Womens/Universal suffrage Civil rights · Gay rights Childrens...

Contents

The offence

In English law, there is a range of non-fatal offences of varying degrees of severity beginning with 'common assault' (the least serious), 'assault occasioning actual bodily harm' (ABH), and the most serious assaults resulting in grievous bodily harm' (GBH). In criminal law, a common assault is a crime when the defendant either puts another in fear of injury or actually commits a battery. ... Grievous bodily harm or GBH is a phrase used in English criminal law which was introduced in ss18 and 20 Offences Against The Person Act 1861. ...


Assault

For there to be an assault, the victim must either "apprehend" the application of physical force, i.e. anticipate that a battery is about to occur, or experience a battery without warning. In Fagan v MPC [1969] 1 QB 439 a police officer ordered the defendant to park his car and he reluctantly complied. In doing so, he accidentally drove the car on to the policeman’s foot and, when asked to remove the car, said "Fuck you, you can wait" and turned off the ignition. Because of the steel toe cap in his boot, the policeman's foot was not in actual danger, but the Divisional Court held that this could constitute an assault. Albeit accidentally, the driver had caused the car to rest on the foot. This actus reus was a continuing state of affairs and the mens rea was formed during the relevant time (see concurrence). Whether realistically or not, the officer apprehended the possibility of injury so the offence was complete. In many common law jurisdictions, the crime of battery involves an injury or other contact upon the person of another in a manner likely to cause bodily harm. ... Actus reus is the action (or inaction, in the case of criminal negligence and similar crimes which are sometimes called acts of omission) which, in combination with the mens rea (guilty mind), produces criminal liability in common law based criminal law jurisdictions such as the United States, United Kingdom. ... The mens rea is the Latin term for guilty mind used in the criminal law. ... For other uses, see concurrency. ...


Occasioning

This is usually taken to mean the same as "causing" i.e. it includes both acts and omissions. In R v Roberts (1971) 56 Cr. App. R. 95 while giving a lift in his car, late at night to a girl, the defendant made unwanted sexual advances. She feared that he intended to rape her so, even though the car was moving, she opened the door, jumped out, and suffered grazes and concussion. Stephenson LJ. stated that the test for causation was whether the result was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of what the defendant was saying or doing. In R v Savage; DPP v Parmenter (1991) 4 All ER 698 Savage threw beer over the victim and, in the struggle, the glass broke and cut the victim. It was held that s47 did not require proof of recklessness in relation to the 'occasioning'. The throwing of the beer was an assault, and that "assault" had occasioned the actual bodily harm which occurred in the continuing struggle. Parmenter injured his baby by tossing him about too roughly. Even though the baby was too young to apprehend the physical contact, there was voluntary contact that caused injury, so Parmenter was liable under s47 because the injury resulted from his intention to play with his son. In the criminal law, an omission or failure to act will constitute an actus reus (Latin for guilty act) and give rise to liability only when the law imposes a duty to act and the defendant is in breach of that duty. ... In law, causation is the name given to the process of testing whether defendants should be fixed with liability for the outcome to their acts and omissions that injure or cause loss to others. ... In the criminal law, recklessness (sometimes also termed willful blindness which may have a different meaning in the United States) is one of the three possible classes of mental state constituting mens rea (the Latin for guilty mind). To commit an offence of ordinary as opposed to strict liability, the...


Bodily harm

The Crown Prosecution Service states that "bodily harm has its ordinary meaning and includes any hurt calculated to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim: such hurt need not be permanent, but must be more than transient and trifling". Examples of injures that would be considered ABH include: The Crown Prosecution Service, or CPS, is a non-ministerial department of the Government of the United Kingdom responsible for public prosecutions of people charged with criminal offences in England and Wales. ...

  • Loss or breaking of teeth;
  • Temporary loss of sensory function, including loss of consciousness;
  • Extensive or multiple bruising;
  • Displaced broken nose;
  • Minor fractures of bones;
  • Minor cuts requiring medical treatment.

Causing any of these injuries would constitute the "actus reus" (Latin for the "guilty act") of ABH. Grazes, minor bruising, swelling, superficial cuts or a black eye would probably be regarded as common assault. The concept of ABH was considered by the Divisional Court in DPP v Smith (Michael Ross) (2006) EWHC 94 (Admin). The defendant held down his former girlfriend and cut off her ponytail with kitchen scissors a few weeks before her 21st birthday. The Magistrates acquitted him on the ground that, although there was undoubtedly an assault, it had not caused ABH, since there was no bruising or bleeding, and no evidence of any psychological or psychiatric harm. The victim’s distress did not amount to bodily harm. The Divisional Court allowed an appeal by the DPP, rejecting the argument for the defendant that the hair was dead tissue above the scalp and so no harm was done. Judge P said: A bruise or contusion or ecchymosis is a kind of injury, usually caused by blunt impact, in which the capillaries are damaged, allowing blood to seep into the surrounding tissue. ... A nosebleed or nosebleedage, medically known as epistaxis, is the relatively common occurrence of hemorrhage (bleeding) from the nose, usually noticed when it drains out through the nostrils. ... Internal and external views of an arm with a compound fracture, both before and after surgery A bone fracture is a medical condition in which a bone becomes cracked, splintered, or bisected as a result of physical trauma. ... Actus reus is the action (or inaction, in the case of criminal negligence and similar crimes which are sometimes called acts of omission) which, in combination with the mens rea (guilty mind), produces criminal liability in common law based criminal law jurisdictions such as the United States, United Kingdom. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... A 21-month old with a black eye after falling 2 meters (6. ... In criminal law, a common assault is a crime when the defendant either puts another in fear of injury or actually commits a battery. ...

"In my judgment, whether it is alive beneath the surface of the skin or dead tissue above the surface of the skin, the hair is an attribute and part of the human body. It is intrinsic to each individual and to the identity of each individual. Although it is not essential to my decision, I note that an individual's hair is relevant to his or her autonomy. Some regard it as their crowning glory. Admirers may so regard it in the object of their affections. Even if, medically and scientifically speaking, the hair above the surface of the scalp is no more than dead tissue, it remains part of the body and is attached to it. While it is so attached, in my judgment it falls within the meaning of "bodily" in the phrase "actual bodily harm". It is concerned with the body of the individual victim."

It has long been accepted that ABH includes any hurt or injury that interferes with the health or comfort of the victim, and which is more than transient or trifling. To damage an important physical aspect of a person’s bodily integrity must amount to ABH, even if the element damaged is dead skin or tissue. As Creswell J. commented in his short concurring judgment:

"To a woman her hair is a vitally important part of her body. Where a significant portion of a woman's hair is cut off without her consent, this is a serious matter amounting to actual (not trivial or insignificant) bodily harm."

Non-physical injury

Non-physical or psychiatric injury can be considered ABH, although there must be medical evidence of the injury. The original legislative intent was probably restricted to physical injury because Parliament required "bodily" rather than "mental" or "emotional" harm. Hence, in R v Clarence (1888) 22 QBD 23, at a time when the defendant knew that he was suffering from a venereal disease, he had sexual intercourse and communicated the disease to his wife. The court was reluctant to consider this an injury within the meaning of the Act. But, in modern times, R v Chan Fook (1994) 1 WLR 689 accepted hysteria as an injury when the defendant locked up a shoplifter who became very upset (i.e. there was some "harm"). This was followed by the Court of Appeal in R v Constanza (1997) 2 Cr. App. R. 492, and the House of Lords which confirmed the principle in R v Burstow, R v Ireland (1998) AC 147. These were a pair of cases on harassment situations before the Protection from the Harassment Act 1997 came into force. During a three month period, Ireland, who had a substantial record of making offensive telephone calls to women, harassed three women by making repeated silent or heavy breathing telephone calls to them at night. This caused his victims to suffer psychiatric illness. Similarly, Burstow could not accept the decision of a woman to terminate a relationship, so he harassed her over an eight month period by making silent and abusive telephone calls, distributed offensive cards in the street where she lived, appeared unnecessarily at her home and place of work, took surreptitious photographs of the victim and her family, and sent her a menacing letter. The victim was fearful of personal violence and was diagnosed as suffering from a severe depressive illness. The best medical practice today accepts a link between the body and psychiatric injury, so the words "bodily harm" in ss20 and 47 were capable of covering recognised psychiatric illnesses, such as an anxiety or a depressive disorder, which affect the central nervous system of the body. However, to qualify, those neuroses must be more than simple states of fear, or problems in coping with everyday life, which do not amount to psychiatric illnesses. A legislature is a type of representative deliberative assembly with the power to adopt laws. ... States currently utilizing parliamentary systems are denoted in red and orange—the former being constitutional monarchies where authority is vested in a parliament, and the latter being parliamentary republics whose parliaments are effectively supreme over a separate head of state. ... This article or section is not written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia article. ... Her Majestys Court of Appeal is the second most senior court in the English legal system, with only the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords above it. ... R. v. ... This article is about the British House of Lords. ... Harassment refers to a wide spectrum of offensive behavior. ... Clinical depression is state of debilitating sadness or melancholy. ... Anxiety is an unpleasant complex combination of emotions that includes fear, apprehension and worry, and is often accompanied by physical sensations such as palpitations, nausea, chest pain and/or shortness of breath. ...


Mens rea

In committing an act of ABH, the "mens rea" (Latin for "guilty mind") may be one of recklessness rather than intention. The court in DPP v Parmenter ruled that, for ABH, “...it is not necessary to show that Parmenter intended bodily harm; if he intended or was reckless as to the assault, and the actual bodily harm was a reasonably foreseeable result (whether or not it was or should have been foreseen by Parmenter himself), that is sufficient.” The mens rea is the Latin term for guilty mind used in the criminal law. ... In the criminal law, intention is one of the three general classes of mens rea necessary to constitute a conventional as opposed to strict liability crime. ...


Distinction between ABH and GBH

ABH is distinguished from the more serious charge of grievous bodily harm both on the level of intent required, and on the severity of the injury (self-evidently, the severity may provide evidence of the intent). The Crown Prosecution Service provide examples of factors which may indicate intent; for example: "a repeated or planned attack; deliberate selection of a weapon or adaptation of an article to cause injury, such as breaking a glass before an attack; making prior threats; and using an offensive weapon against, or kicking the victim's head". All these examples would distinguish the crime as GBH, rather than ABH. Grievous bodily harm or GBH is a phrase used in English criminal law which was introduced in ss18 and 20 Offences Against The Person Act 1861. ...


External links

  • Crown prosecution Service

 
 

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