Different Levels of Assault
There are varying levels of severity when it comes to assault, and 4 main criteria here we explain four key categories of which most cases will fall into.
The most serious kind of assault, Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH), is split into two categories. There are also separate charges for Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) and Common Assault. Read through our FAQs below to see the extent and maximum sentences, which can range from 6 months up to life imprisonment.
Cases that are found to be linked with domestic violence are treated by the police with zero tolerance. Allegations of this kind will be dealt with in a manner that is specific to the extent of that individual case. Not all domestic abuse is physical, but it is still taken extremely seriously.
What is Section 18 GBH?
The most serious case of Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) is a Section 18, because of the emphasis on the intent to cause harm. For instance, to face a charge of Section 18 Assault, a defendant may have kicked a victim’s head, used an offensive weapon against the victim, or made prior threats, to name a few.
Defendants could face up to life imprisonment if found guilty of Section 18 Assault. Talking things through with an experienced assault solicitor could help make a difference to whether you are charged with a Section 18 or a Section 20.
What is Section 20 GBH?
Section 20 is considered to be the lesser of the two categories of GBH, because of the lack of intention to cause the injury. It involves very serious bodily harm or wounding upon another person.
The maximum sentence for a section 20 is a 5-year prison term if sentenced by a jury at the Crown Court.
If dealt with at the Magistrates Court, the maximum sentence is 6 months’ imprisonment.
It is paramount to speak with an assault solicitor at the first opportunity, as this could impact on where your case will be heard.
What is a Section 47 ABH?
Assault occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, or ABH, sits between GBH and Common Assault in terms of severity. To be charged with ABH, there has to be evidence that the victim has been injured, but not to the extent to those under Sections 18 and 20.
Seeking expert legal advice from an assault solicitor is important in helping to decipher the severity of your case. These types of offences can be tried in the Magistrates Court or Crown Court depending on the severity of the allegation.
The maximum sentence for ABH is 5 years’ imprisonment if tried in the Crown Court, or up to 6 months if dealt with summarily at the Magistrates Court.
What is a section 39 Common Assault?
Common Assault, is the least serious of the assault charges. For this to be charged, there are typically no visible injuries. Usually, it is uncommon to receive a custodial sentence without previous convictions.
The maximum sentence for common assault is 6 months’ imprisonment, and they will be dealt with at the Magistrates Court.
If, however, an assault is deemed to be racially or religiously motivated, or part of domestic violence, then the offence is aggravated and the sentences more severe and the case could be transferred to the Crown Court.
Defending An Assault Charge
Regardless of the situation and details surrounding a case, everyone is entitled to a fair legal defence. With any criminal proceedings, our team will work with you to gather all the facts before forming a strong-as-possible defence for your case. With assault charges, in particular, we can look at whether any of the following applies:
- Self-defence or defence of someone else – defending yourself or another after (or before an imminent) attack
- Prevention of a crime – intervening to stop, disrupt or prevent a crime
- Citizen’s arrest – intervening to place a person who has committed an indictable crime under citizen’s arrest until the police arrive
If one or more of the above can be proved, it’s possible your charges may be reduced or dropped entirely. Our team can help establish if this is applicable to your case.
Speak With Our Assault Solicitors
Whatever the extent of the allegation against you, do not hesitate to contact our specialist assault lawyers team who will advise on the best course of action from the start to the end of your case.
Everybody is entitled to a defence, and we would much rather you come to us sooner rather than later so that we can work towards the best possible outcome for your situation.
Our Head of Crime and Regulatory comes very highly recommended on independent review site, Review Solicitors.
To speak to one of our team, please fill out a contact form, use the live chat, or call us on 0161 969 3131.