ABH & GBH (by Georgina Maplethorpe,(student)
I am Georgina Maplethorpe, a student from Spalding High School, for my two weeks of work experience I chose to come to Maples Solicitors. I have really enjoyed my experience and I am very glad that I chose here as my placement as it has really benefitted me in many various ways. I have learnt a great deal which will then go on to help me decide whether to further my education in law and I have also had the opportunity to work with loads of friendly, helpful people and try out different jobs within the industry.
During my time at Maples Solicitors, I have had an excellent insight to experiencing the atmosphere within a police station and life in the office. While on work experience, I have learnt about different aspects of the law and in particular looked at ABH and GBH.
ABH and GBH are abbreviations for Actual Bodily Harm and Grievous Bodily Harm. I have chosen to research in more detail and write about these two offences as I have previously read a case involving them during my work experience; this is what has interested me in them.
What is ABH? ABH is committed when a person assaults another, thereby causing actual bodily harm. Bodily harm itself means, any hurt calculated to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim. The harm is not necessarily serious but it would need to be more than a shove which would remain as something known as common assault. This offence carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine not exceeding the statutory maximum. If someone is being charged for the first time it is unlikely that they will go to prison so a fine would be the usual outcome. Again, if the offender has previous convictions or if they were proven to have had a particular motivation for the attack, specifically if it is racially motivated this could however lead to a prison sentence.
GBH is a much more serious offence than ABH. There are two types of GBH, with intent and without intent. GBH is the unlawful and malicious wounding of a person. For this offence there needs to be really serious harm or the assault needs to have resulted in the wounding of another person. GBH without intent would result in a maximum sentence of five years and GBH with intent can in some cases result in life imprisonment but in reality sentences, over ten years are extremely rare. In the case of GBH the option of just a fine is not provided even if it is a first time offence. Also in the case of GBH it is often likely that bail will be refused due to the violent nature of the offence.
It can sometimes be difficult to determine which offence has been committed; this depends on the injuries of the victim. Another difficulty would occur when prosecuting the offender; the most common defence for these offences is one of self defence. To rely on this defence, there must have been an imminent attack and any actions used in defence must be reasonable and proportionate. There is no law that a man must wait to be struck before striking in self defence. In the event that there is no evidence of guilty mind, the charge is either reduced or dropped.