There are numerous approaches to evaluate Law and Sentenceson particular non-fatal offenses one way in doing so is assessing the criticismsof them. The first criticism is the language of the laws being old (in the Actitself) as well as confusing. For example, in GBH section 20 and 18 it uses a wordsuch as “Malicious” nowadays nobody uses words like this, this thereforedoesn’t seem to be modernised, this was meant to define to be: “Recklessly” butgives the idea that it means committing something in a nasty/hateful manner, itwas meant to be for the Mens Rea, but Mens Res has the definition of “withintent”. In addition to this, the term “assault” nowadays suggests physicalinjuries to a victim after hitting them. But, in terms of law it is just makingsomebody feel fear, this is misleading so when a person in court claims theyhave been assaulted they really mean they have been a victim of either: GBH,ABH or a Battery depending on the seriousness of the injuries.
Another criticismI am going to talk about is that Mens Rea in Section 47 doesn’t need any extraMens Rea, it doesn’t have need of the person committing the crime to expect a risk/injury,like in the case R v Roberts wherethe defendant offered to give the victim a lift and then wanted to have sexwith her then she said no so he started to drive off with her at a high speedleading her to injure herself by doing what anybody else would do, jump out. Thedefendant claimed that he was unaware of risks and didn’t mean for the victimto suffer from ABH, even though he made her feel fear which was what lead herto jump out of the car. The third criticism I’m going to talk about is the lackof the seriousness needed in the actual harm area in Section 20 GBH, the onlything the prosecution need to show is that the defendant had intention to causesome harm, which could be the smallest type of harm. Like in the case R v Mowatt where the defendant beat thevictim unconscious due to the victim confronting the defendant about the defendant’spartner who helped steal form the victim.
It was decided that theIntention/recklessness to cause a wound and/or GBH doesn’t need proving.Another criticism I’m going to talk about is the actual offence known as a”Battery” being misleading, the word battery makes us think that it is wheresomebody gets beaten up badly, but really it is caused by touching someone purposely.Relating to Battery another criticism is there is no legal definition to defineboth “assault & battery” the only thing close to a definition is therequirements to cause them. Regarding ABH & GBH the separation doesn’t seemto be visible, it is the courts that actually make the decision of what causesserious harm, but everyone has different views on crimes and offenders,especially when both ABH and GBH include psychological pain because it’s hardto decide what amount of the pain of it comes under what offence, with noboundary as a guidance there will be no proper way in deciding. The finalcriticism I will be talking about is using a “wound” to separate Section 18from 20 being useless as there should only be one Section for GBH because ofthe case Moriarty v Brookes wherethe defendant hit a customer and used force to remove him from a pub. He wasguilty as he broke the layers of the skin, but compared to a needle prick, youcan easily see that the needle isn’t a serious as the punches, so I believe ifthey had one Section they can easily charge somebody with GBH and giving them asuitable sentence rather that deciding over a wound.
GBH Section 18 is the offence of inflicting either a woundor GBH. The Actus Reus in Section 18 is to wound/ cause GBH to the victim. TheMens Rea is the direct intention to cause GBH and not recklessness. The maximumsentence for GBH Section 18 is 25 years as it’s the more serious out of Section20 and 18. In addition to this, GBH Section 20 is the offence of inflicting a woundor GBH to the victim. The Mens Rea for this is the intention/ recklessness tocause some harm to the victim.
The maximum sentence for GBH Section 20 is 5years in prison as it’s the least serious of the two. Moreover Section 47 ABH,can be caused by either an assault or battery. The Mens Rea for this isintention or recklessness to commit the assault or battery or both. In ABH Section47 touching someone else’s clothes or spitting on them can amount to a battery.Even though they do not physically injure the victim, but they could possiblypsychologically injure them, this is unfair as they will be charged under ABH Section47 and will have the same sentence as someone who has amounted GBH. Also, anassault can just be committed by saying something to make the victim feelimmediate fear.
An example of GBH Section 20 is breaking someone’s bone. ABH Section47 is caused by the slight direct touch. By knowing this it is clear that thesentencing for these non-fatal offences have not been thought through due tothe difference is the elements of committing the crimes. There are somesimilarities in the crimes such as intention, but nothing major that fit GBH Section20 and ABH Section 47 into the same sentencing. Therefore, I believe that the sentencingfor these opposite crimes should be reconsidered. However, the maximum sentencefor GBH Section 18 is 25 years. This is a very big gap between the non-fataloffences even though GBH Section 20 and Section 18 are very similar in terms ofthe wounding, the problem seems to be if the sentence length should bedependent on the intention of causing GBH such as Recklessness or Directintention? I believe Section 18 and Section 20 should both have the samesentence such as 10-15 years in prison where the judge is able to decide on thelength of the sentence depending on how severe the victim’s injuries are.
To finalize I’m going to talk about the reforms from the LawCommission regarding the Non-Fatal offences. One reform I’m going to focus on is the onethat creates a simplification where “Sections are replaced with “Clauses”. For example,Section 18 (as defined above) would becomeClause 1. The Actus Reus for Clause 1 is causing serious injury tothe victim, “injury” has substituted “Bodily Harm”.
The Mens Rea for Clause 1is the Intention to cause a serious injury. Section 20 (as defined above), would become Clause 2. The Actus reus for Clause2 is causing serious injury to the victim also, so now they both have thesame Actus Reus. The Mens Rea on the other hand is recklessly causing seriousinjury which is relevant for GBH Section 20. By the difference in the Mens Reaa clear difference is set. Section 47 wouldbe Clause 3. The Actus Reus for Clause 3 is to cause injury to thevictim, not serious injury.
The Mens Rea is intentionally or recklessly causingthis less serious injury. Another reform to simplify is idea of a Common Assault which is the idea ofbeing charged with a Common Assault insteadof Section 47. A Common Assault sharesthe same elements as both Assault andBattery but it’s in a way merged into one, Common Assault is followedby the following types of Assaults: Physical Assaults, Aggravated Assaults,Threatened Assaults. Physical Assaults ActusReus is where the defendant without permission touches the victim, as touch cancause a battery and it doesn’t have to be forced. The Mens Rea is to committhis intentionally or recklessly.
ThreatenedAssaults Actus Reus is to cause the victim to feel immediate unlawfulviolence. This has the same Mens Rea as PhysicalAssault. Aggravated Assaults Actus Reus is to cause minor injury to thevictim. The Mens Rea is the intention or recklessness to cause a common assaulteither physical or threatened. Bibliography Criticisms of Non-Fatal Offences http://www.bitsoflaw.org/criminal/offences-against-the-person/study-note/a-level/non-fatal-evaluation-reform Sentencing Based off Task 2 (Anna and Ben) Reforms http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/app/uploads/2015/11/lc361_offences_against_the_person_summary.pdf