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Criminal Defence Blog

Archive for the ‘Assault’ Category

Should I Plead Guilty To Assault?

Should I Plead Guilty To Assault, GBH, or Wounding?


Offences against the person such as assault, grievous bodily harm and wounding are serious charges. If you are being charged with any of these offences, you must seek specialist legal advice immediately.


This post aims to explain what these broad terms mean.


Grievous Bodily Harm


Charges of GBH, otherwise known as Section 18 assaults, are very serious charges that are always dealt with by the Crown Court and carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.


You should only plead guilty to a charge of GBH if the injuries caused were sufficiently serious and, crucially, if your intent was to cause grievous bodily harm.


Wounding Without Intent


Wounding without intent, or Section 20 assault, is the appropriate charge where grievous bodily harm was caused but the intention was only to cause some harm or pain. This charge can be heard in the magistrates’ court or the Crown Court and carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment, so you can start to appreciate how important it is to make sure you are facing the appropriate charge and do not plead guilty to a charge that is too serious.


Actual Bodily Harm


Actual bodily harm, or Section 47 assault, is appropriate where bodily harm has been caused but the intention was only to assault them.


These charges can be heard in the magistrates’ court or Crown Court and carry a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment.


Common Assault


Common assault, or Section 39, is appropriate where unlawful force is applied against another person or where that person fears that immediate force will be used against them.


Common assault can only be dealt with in the magistrates’ court and carries a maximum sentence of 6 months’ imprisonment, although more lenient sentences such as community orders can be imposed at the court’s discretion.


If you are being investigated for or charged with an assault charge, contact us now for a free consultation on 01623 397200.

What Is The Law on Self-Defence?

What is the Law on Self-Defence?


Self-defence is an area of law that has received much attention over recent years, however most people are not clear on what exactly constitutes self-defence and whether it can be used successfully as a defence.


This post aims to provide basic information about self-defence – for detailed information about whether you have a defence on these grounds, call our legal team on 01623 397200. We will be able to assess your individual case and advise you.


In general terms, the law of self-defence exists so that people who act ‘reasonably and in good faith’ to defend themselves, their family or their property, or for the prevention of crime or apprehension of an offender, should not face prosecution.


What Is Reasonable?


A key term within the area of self-defence is whether the force used was reasonable force.


What constitutes reasonable force differs depending on the circumstances.


The law has now changed in relation to defending against intruders, with Section 43 of the Crime and Courts Act amending Section 76 of the Criminal Justice & Immigration Act 2008 to allow that in situations where intruders gain entry, a householder who acts instinctively and honestly in the heat of the moment will likely be considered to have acted lawfully in self-defence, even if the force used later turns out to have been disproportionate.


When a case involves preventing a crime or apprehending a criminal, the court will be very concerned with striking a balance between encouraging responsible citizens and discouraging vigilante behaviour. The latter will be disapproved of by the court and cases of vigilante behaviour will be dealt with as such.


The key questions to ascertain whether reasonable force was used are:


  1. Was the use of force necessary?
  2. Was the force used reasonable?


What amounts to reasonable force is established based on the circumstances of each case, so full preparation of defence cases before trial, and specialist advocacy are vital.


While the circumstances of the case are important, the level of force used is to be considered in alignment with what a reasonable person would consider to be reasonable in the situation.


It is also important to consider the circumstances that the defendant believed they were in, and this belief must be genuine, not reasonable. Naturally, the court will require more persuading that an unreasonable belief was genuinely held – for example, a grown man who attacks a single woman who was unarmed may struggle to convince the court that his actions were necessary for self-defence because he genuinely believed that he was under threat of violence.


Self-defence is a complex area of law. If you are facing a criminal charge and believe that you have grounds to argue this defence, contact us now on 01623 397200 for a free initial telephone consultation.



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