Tag Archives: GBH

Grievous Bodily Harm and Wounding, with and without intent

In legal shorthand we often refer to section 18 or 20 offences.  These refer to specific offences under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.  They are offences that involve allegations of serious violence causing either Grievous Bodily Harm or Wounding.

What is the difference between section 18 and section 20?

grievous bodily harmThe most serious form of assault, short of attempt murder, is an offence under Section 18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861.  This involves the causing of either Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) or Wounding intending to cause such a serious injury.

An offence involving intent under section 18 carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.  The same offence committed without intent under section 20 has a maximum sentence of only five years.

As a result, the offence can be committed in different ways:

  • wounding with intent
  • causing GBH with intent
  • wounding without intent
  • causing GBH without intent

‘Unlawfully and Maliciously’

For an offence to be committed unlawfully and maliciously it means that there is no defence such as self-defence, force used for preventing crime or the defence of property or another.

There are also some other technical differences between the two offences.

What is Grievous Bodily Harm?

 GBH or grievous bodily harm is really serious bodily harm.  It will include include broken limbs for example but can also include psychiatric injury.

What is wounding?

Wounding is where the skin is broken, either internally or externally.

Section 18 – the intent offence

 For the more serious offence intent to cause serious injury or wounding is required.

A jury needs to be satisfied that the offender intended to cause the harm.  They will do so by considering all of the relevant circumstances, including what the offender did and what he said about it.

What about weapons?

 The use of a weapon will make any offence more serious. Weapons include knives and bottles, or throwing acid.  Where feet are used to kick somebody they are treated as a weapon.  Biting will also be an aggravating feature in any case.

grievous bodily harm

Section 20, the offence without intent

In such a case it is accepted that there was no intention to cause the injury.  For example this might be the case involving a single punch that causes a person to fall backwards leading to a serious injury or wound.

A jury will be helped to decided on this issue by looking at  evidence of the manner in which the assault was carried out or your behaviour at the time and afterwards.

What sentence will I get?

 For an offence committed with intent it is almost inevitable that a term of imprisonment will be imposed. The guidelines range from 3 years for a less serious offence through to 16 years for the more serious offences.

Examples of sentences imposed are:

  • nine years when a bottle was used to strike the face requiring thirty stitches
  • nine years also imposed for causing a fractured arm with a baseball bat, knocking down and driving over a police officer, kicks to the head on the floor causing extensive facial fractures.

For offences under section 20 the maximum sentence is 5 years, so a non-custodial sentence is more likely. The guidelines range from a community order to 4 years imprisonment.

grievous bodily harm

Instruct an expert criminal law solicitor to represent you

The difference in sentencing for the absence of intent means that this issue has to be considered carefully in the context of all of the evidence.

We can advise you whether intent and other offence elements can be proven, and the prospects, if appropriate, of a plea to the lesser offence being acceptable to the prosecution and the court.

The law is complicated and the potential consequences of a prosecution severe.

As a result, if you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about an offence relating to grievous bodily harm or wounding then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.

The advantages of such early legal advice can be found here.

If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.  Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.

 You can find your nearest office here.

grievous bodily harm
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively you can use the contact form below:


Suspended sentence for Grievous Bodily Harm at Chesterfield

suspended sentence grievous bodily harm chesterfield
Chesterfield crime solicitor David Gittins

Chesterfield Crime Solicitor David Gittins recently represented a young man before Chesterfield Magistrates Court. His client had been charged with the serious offence of section 20 Grievous Bodily Harm or GBH.  It was alleged he had broken the jaw of the complainant.

The sentencing guidelines mean that such an offence will regularly carry a custodial sentence upon conviction.  Furthermore, such cases will often be dealt with before the Crown Court.

In this case, David gave careful consideration to the guidelines and the facts.  As a result he was able to convince the court not only to keep the case but also to impose an alternative to immediate custody.

Free police station advice and representation

Experienced Police Station Representative Rob Lowe first attended Chesterfield Police station with our client.  This was some months before the matter finally came before the court.

Chesterfield Police Station Representative Rob Lowe

Rob was able to provide free legal advice following arrest for grievous bodily harm. This was under the legal aid scheme.  Such advice is not means tested so as a result will always be free of charge.

Having a legal representative in the police station is always important.  Rob was able to secure information from the police about the incident.  As a result the client knew in advance what the allegation was.  Rob took our client’s instructions. He was then able to advise on the strength of the evidence.

The evidence was very strong  as our client was named as the aggressor. Our client accepted that he was guilty of the offence.  He then had a decision to make as to whether he would answer police questions or not.

Rob was able to explain that there is often something to be gained by answering police questions even where a person will accept guilt at court.  In this case it was important that our client explain at the outset why he had acted as he did.  It was an early opportunity for him to say how sorry he felt.  This would help him gain maximum credit on sentence when the case reached court.

Late service of CCTV evidence (again)

When the matter was eventually charged David took over the management of the case to prepared the case for court.  Although the entire incident was covered by CCTV this was not available until the day the case was first in court.

The footage was clear and showed our client punching the victim once to the face.  He was knocked to the ground. Sadly the victim was left with a fractured jaw that needed surgery.  The Prosecution was to argue that the case should be allocated to the Crown Court as the Magistrates’ sentencing powers were insufficient.

Representations on mode of trial and allocation

David was able to argue against that, relying on a number of factors:

  • The CCTV footage showed his client breaking up a fight immediately before he threw the punch
  • he walked off straight away
  • there was a single punch so no follow up
  • he was of good character
  • he was only 18 at the time of the incident
  • his early admission of guilty

The Magistrates were taken through the relevant sentencing guidelines in detail.  As a result, despite prosecution representations, the Magistrates agreed the case could remain in their court.  The case was adjourned in order that a pre-sentence could be obtained from the probation service.

Suspended sentence for Grievous Bodily Harm

When the matter returned to Court a week later the Probation service had prepared a report.  Although prison remained an option, the report concluded that our client’s risk could be managed outside the prison system. As a result, any punishment could properly be within the community.

David’s powerful and reasoned mitigation led to his client receiving a twelve week sentence of imprisonment.  This sentence would be suspended.  This was combined with community elements and compensation.

As a result our client was understandably delighted.  He realised just how close he had come to receiving an immediate prison sentence.

Contact a Chesterfield Criminal Defence Specialist

Without condoning violence, the outcome shows that with the right preparation a court can be persuaded to sentence on the basis of single mistake that will never be repeated.  There is often flexibility within the guidelines to permit a sentence that properly reflects the mitigation available to a client.

However, you will only be able to secure the best result for you in the circumstances if you choose your legal representatives carefully.

If you face a police investigation or court proceedings for an offence such as Grievous Bodily Harm then you can contact David or Rob at our Chesterfield office on 01246 283000.  Alternatively you can use the form below to email your enquiry to us.


Section 18 GBH Trial at Nottingham – Not Guilty Verdict

Nottingham criminal solicitor advocate Phil Plant

Nottingham solicitor advocate Phil Plant recently represented a client before Nottingham Crown Court who face the serious allegation of inflicting Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent (Section 18 GBH).  After trial, he was found not guilty.

Assault Following False Allegations

Phil’s client was said, along with a co-accused, to have taken part in a brutal revenge attack on the victim following false allegations that he had assaulted a female friend.

section 18 GBH trial
Trial Success at Nottingham Crown Court

The victim had been so badly beaten that was so badly beaten he suffered a displaced fractured of the jaw.  It also led to him suffering  almost total amnesia and his recollection was based on harrowing flashbacks of the incident that continued to haunt him.

Lesser Charge Instead of Section 18 GBH?

Upon conviction, our client could expect a substantial period of imprisonment.  The prosecution had told us that it would accept a plea to the lesser charge of inflicting GBH (Section 20 rather than section 18 GBH).  Phil’s client insisted that he was not involved at all, so chose to have his trial.

The victim asserted that the the complainant named both of the accused as the perpetrators of the attack.  Phil’s client did not accept that he was part of the attack, although he did witness it.

When questioned by Phil the complainant conceded that his client was not the kind of man who would behave in the manner he described, conceding perhaps that it appeared unlikely that his client did indeed take part in the attack.

The other defendant had given given different accounts during the course of the investigation.  At trial he maintained that it was our client who had carried out the assault.

Not Guilty Verdict

Having heard evidence tested through Phil’s expert cross-examination the jury found his client not guilty.  The other accused, separately represented, was convicted of the original offence and received a significant custodial sentence of several years.

Contact Phil Plant

If you wish to instruct Phil to represent you at trial before Nottingham Crown Court then please contact him on 0115 9599550 or email him here.

Nottingham Crown Court Sentence

Nottingham solicitor advocate Nick Walsh recently dealt with a sentence before Nottingham Crown Court.  Careful mitigation drew distinctions between his client and two others to ensure that he received a suspended sentence rather than an immediate prison sentence.

Nottingham Crown Court
Nottingham Crown Court

Struck With a Bottle

Nick’s client, along with others, had pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm.   He was one of five people who had attended a house party.  Everyone present was drunk.

The behaviour of one of the group led to concerns from the victim that a female party-goer was to be assaulted.  As a result, the victim took hold of the aggressor.  He was then set upon by the group. During the assault he was punched and kicked and struck over the head with a bottle.

As a result of the assault he received a fractured jaw and had to undergo immediate surgery.  He was discharged from hospital two days later.

Negotiation of Lesser Charge

Only three of the five had been charged with offences.  They had originally been charged inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent to case really serious injury.  Negotiation at the Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing persuaded the prosecution to accept pleas to the lesser charge.

The probation service had prepared a pre-sentence report.  In that report, Nick’s client had accepted that he was the person who had struck the victim with the bottle.

Sentencing Guidelines

The sentencing guidelines relating to this offence can be found here.

One interpretation of the Guidelines would have placed this offence as one of greater harm, it being a sustained assault, and higher culpability as a weapon was used in the attack.  Had that been the case, the starting point for sentence for a ‘Category 1’ offence would have been three years imprisonment.

Further negotiation with the prosecutor and detailed representations to the Judge allowed the case to be treated as falling within Category 2 of the guideline.  This was due to the absence of pre-meditation.  As a result there was now a starting point of 18 months custody.

Careful Mitigation at Nottingham Crown Court

Although 17 at the time of the incident, Nick’s client was 18 at the point of sentence.  Nick was able to rely upon his client’s youth and more importantly what he had achieved in the ten months since the incident.  He had found work and broken off ties with his co-accused.  He also had compelling mitigation relating to his upbringing.

As a result, although it was Nick’s client who used a weapon in the incident the Judge at Nottingham Crown Court was able to distinguish between him and the others in the dock.  He received a sentence of 8 months suspended for 18 months with community requirements.   His co accused, however,  each received sentences 14 months’ immediate custody.

Contact Nick Walsh

Nick deals with clients at the police station, Magistrates’ and Crown Courts.  As a result he can provide you with continuity of representation.  If you wish to instruct Nick in any case then please telephone him on 0115 9599550 or email him here.