If you are being investigated for, or charged with, ABH it is vital that you seek specialist help from ABH solicitors as soon as possible.
Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm
Contrary to Section 47 Offences Against The Person Act 1861
This offence is committed when a person assaults another, causing Actual Bodily Harm (any hurt calculated to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim)
How Can You Fight An ABH Allegation?
If you are charged with ABH, the first step is to review whether it is the correct charge based on the allegation. We often see the CPS charging assault cases incorrectly.
Once we have reviewed whether the charge is correct based on the allegation, we can decide whether you should be pleading guilty or not guilty.
ABH is similar to Common Assault but involves a serious injury (‘bodily harm’).
ABH is therefore a more serious offence, however:
such hurt need not be permanent, but must be more than transient and trifling: (R v Donovan 25 Cr. App. Rep. 1, CCA).
What are the differences between ABH and Common Assault?
The differences between these offences can be summarised in two ways:-
- The degree of injury which results from the assault; and
- The sentencing powers at the disposal of the sentencing court
What is meant by a ‘serious’ injury?
Two questions are key in determining whether a serious injury has been sustained. Your ABH solicitors will review these questions in relation to the charge you face:
- Has there been significant medical intervention; and/or
- Have permanent effects resulted from the assault?
The need for a number of stitches (but not the superficial use of steri-strips), or a hospital procedure under anaesthetic would be good examples of an injury which is serious in nature.
Psychological harm can also amount to ABH – but this needs to be more serious than transient emotions such as fear, distress or panic.
What sentencing powers do the courts have for this offence?
ABH is an either way offence, which means it can be heard in the magistrates’ or the Crown Court.
It carries 6 months imprisonment in the magistrates’ court, or up to 5 years in the Crown Court. It is therefore vital that you instruct specialist ABH solicitors to prepare the best mitigation or defence for your case.
What factors affect sentencing for ABH?
First of all, the degrees of harm caused to the ‘complainant’, and the culpability (responsibility/blame) attributed to the person charged with the offence are assessed.
In this way, the offence is separated out into three categories of ascending seriousness. The court will decide which of these categories the offences fits.
In terms of harm, they will look at the level of injury, or fear of injury, and whether the victim is particularly vulnerable.
In relation to culpability, they will consider whether the offence was motivated by hostility to a person’s disability, sexuality, age, sex or gender. Use, or threatened use, of a weapon will make the matter more serious – this includes head butts or kicking, as well as a group activity.
The court will then look at factors that make the offence more serious, followed by those that would make it less serious.
What defences are there to a charge of ABH?
In common with all assault charges, it is a defence to show that you acted in self-defence.
You would have to show that you feared an attack and that the force you used was not excessive. You do not have to wait until you are hit before defending yourself – it is enough to show that you thought you were going to be attacked.
In appropriate cases, you may be able to argue mistaken identity.
How Can Forrest Williams Help?
Forrest Williams are a specialist firm of ABH solicitors.
We are a private firm and do not offer Legal Aid. Our clients are usually unfamiliar with the legal system and require strong advocacy and case preparation as well as support throughout the case.
As our client, you will enjoy a dedicated case worker focused on your case and will see first hand why we are renowned for our client care.
With Forrest Williams on your side, you’re in control. You can depend on us.