Grievous Bodily Harm

Causing Grievous Bodily Harm, Unlawful Wounding, Wounding, GBH, s.20 Assault, s.20 Wounding

Causing grievous bodily harm is one of the more serious assault offences in English criminal law. The offence caws created by section 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

if you are accused of causing grievous bodily harm, the prosecution must prove that:

  • You have used force against another person,
  • That use of force was unlawful,
  • The use of force caused the other person to suffer a serious injury

Grievous bodily harm is an outdated way of saying “really serious harm.” This is still a broad definition, but usually refers to broken bones or deep cuts requiring stitches. Medical evidence is usually produced to prove that the injury  qualifies as grievous bodily harm. If the injury is not this serious, the correct charge wild be actual bodily harm.

Causing grievous bodily harm is so serious that it is an either way offence. This means that is can be heard by weather a Magistrates Court or Crown Court. In practice, almost all cases of grievous bodily harm are dealt with by the Crown Court due to the seriousness of any injury that justifies that charge.

A related offence is wounding with intent, contrary to s.18 of the Offences Against the Person Act. The difference between a s.20 offence and s.18 is whether the suspect intended to cause the serious injury. Even when an assault is carried out deliberately, it does not automatically mean that the injury was caused intentionally. This is often an issue that needs careful consideration and expert advice from an experienced criminal defence solicitor.

Racially Aggravated Grievous Bodily Harm,

There is a separate offence of racially aggravated grievous bodily harm, under section 29(1)(a) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. This offence has the same elements as the standard offence described above, but the Prosecution must also prove that the assault was motivated by hostility towards the victim’s racial or religious background.

The sentencing powers of the Crown Court are increased for the racially aggravated offence, from 5 years to 7 years imprisonment.

If you have been accused of causing grievous bodily harm, it is important that you have expert advice from a specialist criminal defence lawyer. Contact us to see if we can help you find the best criminal solicitor or barrister for your case.

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Every case is unique, and everybody’s circumstances are different. If you are dealing with any of the offences discussed on this site, and need independent advice or a second opinion, contact us to see if we can help.