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GBH Solicitors

If you are being investigated for, or charged with, GBH it is vital that you seek specialist help from GBH solicitors as soon as possible.


How Can You Defend A GBH Allegation?

There are two types of GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm).

Firstly, Section 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 covers unlawful wounding/inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Unlawful wounding / inflicting grievous bodily harm
Contrary to Section 20, Offences Against The Person Act 1861

This offence is committed when a person unlawfully and maliciously, either wounds another person or inflicts grievous bodily harm upon another person.

Secondly, Section 18 of the Act covers wounding/causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Wounding / causing grievous bodily harm with intent
Contrary to Section 18, Offences Against The Person Act, 1861
This offence is committed when a person unlawfully and maliciously, with intent to do some grievous bodily harm, or with intent to resist or prevent the lawful apprehension of any person, either wounds another person; or causes grievous bodily harm to another person.

The first step will be to review the allegation against you and check that you have been charged with the correct offence, not only the correct type of GBH offence but also the correct assault offence.  We regularly see people charged with GBH when a less serious charge would be more appropriate.

Wounding is the

‘breaking of the continuity of the whole of the outer skin, or the inner skin within the cheek or lip. It does not include the rupturing of internal blood vessels.’

This definition includes minor injuries, such as small cuts or lacerations. If an assault resulted in less serious injuries such as these, then the more appropriate charge would be either Common Assault or ABH.

Grievous bodily harm is deemed to be the same thing as really serious bodily harm.

Although the jury will ultimately make a decision as to whether the injuries are really serious, the following examples are given by the CPS regarding what harm would be included:-

  • injury resulting in permanent disability, loss of sensory function or visible disfigurement;
  • broken or displaced limbs or bones, including fractured skull, compound fractures, broken cheek bone, jaw, ribs, etc;
  • injuries which cause substantial loss of blood, usually necessitating a transfusion or result in lengthy treatment or incapacity;
  • serious psychiatric injury. As with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, appropriate expert evidence is essential to prove the injury

If we think you have been charged with the wrong offence we will work to get the Prosecution to reduce it to a less serious offence.


The Second stage will be to look at your defence, there are a number of defences to GBH. You may be arguing that you acted in self defence or that it was mistaken identity. 


We will obtain all of the prosecution papers as soon as possible and go through them with you in detail. Once we have established what the prosecution case is we can then start to prepare your defence. This will include taking a full statement from you as well as identifying any witnesses and taking statements from them. 


We have a team of investigators who can go through the crime scene and the forensics if appropriate to support your defence.


What is the difference between Section 18 and Section 20 GBH?

The difference between the two offences can be summarised as intent.

It is not the seriousness of the injury which is the determining factor, although this can give evidence of the intent motivating the assault.

Factors that may indicate the specific intent include:-

  • a repeated or planned attack;
  • deliberate selection of a weapon or adaptation of an article to cause injury, such as breaking a glass before an attack;
  • making prior threats;
  • using an offensive weapon against, or kicking the victim’s head.


Does this offence cover the reckless transmission of sexual infection?

Yes. Such cases will usually be charged under Section 20 of the Act.

These cases are very complex and specialist advice from GBH solicitors should be sought at an early stage.


What are the sentencing powers for these offences?

The Section 20 offence is an either way offence (which means sentencing can take place at either the magistrates’ or crown court). It carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine in the Crown Court. If sentencing takes place at the magistrates’ court, then the maximum penalty is six months’ imprisonment and/or a fine.

The Section 18 offence, is an indictable only offence, which means it will start in the magistrates’ court, then be committed up to the crown court for sentencing. It carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, so you can see why it is vital that you consult our GBH solicitors at the earliest possible opportunity.


How Can Forrest Williams Help?

Forrest Williams are a specialist firm of GBH solicitors.

We are a nationwide, award-winning firm and we do not offer Legal Aid.  Our clients appreciate how serious a GBH charge is and do not want to cut corners on their legal representation.

We can represent you in any court in the country and can see people face to face in Nottingham, Birmingham and London.

You will have a dedicated case worker focused on your case, representation at hearings by one of our specialist barristers and our full support throughout your case.  We return every missed call on the same day and most eMails are answered within an hour.

If you are looking for a specialist team of assault solicitors who will treat your case with the importance and urgency it deserve we will provide that.

With Forrest Williams on your side, you’re in control.  You can depend on us.


We know you will want to discuss this with our GBH solicitors.  Call us on 01623 397200 for a free and honest assessment of your chances of success.

Get in touch or request a free callback

    • Private Prosecution