There are many ways to evaluate Law and Sentences on specificnon-fatal offences, one way in doing so is looking at the criticisms ofnon-fatal offences. The first criticism is the language of the laws being old(in the Act itself) as well as confusing. For example, in GBH section 20 and 18it uses terms such as “Malicious” in modern day society nobody uses words likethis, this therefore doesn’t seem to be modernised, this was meant to define tobe: “Recklessly” but gives the impression it infers committing something in anasty/hateful manner, it was meant to be for the Mens Rea, but Mens Res hasbeen defined as “with intent”. In addition to this, the term “assault” inmodern day society implies physical injuries to a victim after beating them.
But,in terms of law it is just making somebody feel fear, this is misleading sowhen a person in court claims they have been assaulted they really mean theyhave been a victim of either: GBH, ABH or a Battery depending on theseriousness of the injuries. Another criticism I am going to talk about is thefact that Mens Rea in Section 47 doesn’t need any extra Mens Rea, it doesn’thave the requirement of the defendant to foresee a risk/injury, like in thecase R v Roberts where the defendantoffered to give the victim a lift and then demanded her to have sex with him asshe said no he drove off with her at a high speed leading her to injure herselfby jumping out. The defendant claimed that he was unaware of risks and didn’tmean for the victim to suffer from ABH, even though he put her in a fearfulstate of mind leading to her jumping out of his car. The third criticism I’mgoing to talk about is the lack of the seriousness needed in the actual harmsector in Section 20 GBH, the only thing the prosecution need to show is thatthe defendant had intention to cause some harm, which could be the smallest formof harm. Like in the case R v Mowatt wherethe defendant beat the victim unconscious due to the victim confronting the defendantabout the defendant’s partner who helped steal form the victim. It was decidedthat the Intention/recklessness to cause a wound and/or GBH doesn’t needproving. Another criticism I’m going to talk about is the actual offence knownas a “Battery” being misleading.
Relating to Battery another criticism is thereis no legal definition to define both “assault & battery” the only thingclose to a definition is the requirements to cause them. Regarding ABH &GBH the separation doesn’t seem to be visible, it is actual the courts thatmake the decision of what causes serious harm, but everyone has differentopinions, especially when both ABH and GBH include psychological pain becauseit’s hard to decide what extent 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 theseriousness is clearly different, so I believe if they had one Section they caneasily charge somebody with GBH and giving them a suitable sentence rather thatdeciding 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