Non-Fatal Offences PowerPoint

In this topic we will consider liability for:
Section 47
Section 20
Section 18
• When answering questions involving
non-fatal offences against the person,
which offence should one start with?
• Both are statutory offences (DPP v Little
• The charge is one of assault or battery
contrary to s.39 Criminal Justice Act
• The term “common assault”
encompasses assault and battery
(Lynsey (1995)).
• Definition of assault – any act by which
D intentionally/recklessly causes V to
apprehend immediate and unlawful
personal violence.
• Does this rule out assault by omission,
see Fagan v Metropolitan Police
Commissioner (1969)?
• Words alone may constitute an assault
(Constanza (1997).
• It is not a requirement of assault that V
can see her assailant. Thus, an assault
can be committed in the dark or over
the telephone.
• Examples
• D says to V:
• (a) “I would hurt you if it wasn’t for…
• (b) “I will hurt you unless...”
• In example 1, the words used by D
make clear that, for whatever reason,
he won’t do anything to V. There is,
therefore, no assault. This is illustrated
by Tuberville v Savage (1669).
• In example 2, the words used show that
D will hurt V unless V complies with the
specified condition. D is, therefore,
liable for an assault on V. This is
illustrated by Read v Coker (1853).
How strictly is “immediate”
• Immediate is interpreted quite flexibly,
see Smith v Superintendent of Woking
Police Station (1983) which adopted a
broad view of immediate.
• Also see Constanza and Ireland &
Burstow (1997) HL.
• Definition – any act by which D
intentionally/recklessly inflicts unlawful
personal violence.
Can contact with the
clothes worn by a person
constitute a battery?
• Relevant caselaw:
• Day (1845) - contact with the clothes
worn by a person can constitute a
battery as the person of V includes the
clothes on his back.
• Thomas (1985) - it is not necessary that
V should be able to feel the impact
through his clothes.
Can a battery involve
indirect violence?
• Although most batteries are directly
inflicted, e.g. D hitting V, it is not
essential that the violence be direct.
See, for example, Martin (1881) and
DPP v K (1990).
Mens rea of assault and
• Both assault and battery can be
committed intentionally or recklessly,
see Venna (1978).
• Recklessness is subjective, see Spratt
S.47 OAPA 1861
• Definition – Assault occasioning actual bodily
• Actus reus
• Assault means assault or battery
• For the meaning of occasioning, see Roberts
• For the meaning of actual bodily harm, see
Chan-Fook (1994).
• Examples
• It is possible to commit the s.47 offence
by one or more silent phone calls
(Ireland & Burstow).
Mens rea of s.47
• Only the mens rea for assault or battery
need be proven (Savage & Parmenter
(1991) HL).
• It is not, therefore, necessary to prove D
foresaw a.b.h. only that he intended or
was subjectively reckless as to whether
V apprehend or sustain unlawful
personal violence.
• Definition – unlawful and malicious
wounding or inflicting gbh
• 2 offences created by the section • unlawfully wounding
• unlawfully inflicting gbh
Wounding offence
• For what constitutes a wound, see JCC
v Eisenhower (1984)).
Grievous bodily harm
• It is sufficient for the trial judge to direct
the jury that gbh simply means “serious
harm” (Saunders (1985)).
• Examples
Is s.20, which refers to "inflict gbh,"
narrower in scope than s.18 which
refers to "cause gbh"?
• In Ireland & Burstow, the court held that gbh
can be inflicted where no personal violence has
been applied directly or indirectly to the body of
V - the application of physical force is not
• Thus, there does not appear to be any
distinction between cause and inflict.
Mens rea
• The mens rea is “maliciously”.
• This means intentionally or subjective
recklessness (Savage and Parmenter)
as to some physical harm (Mowatt
• Intention to frighten is not sufficient for
• (Sullivan (1981)).
• Definition – unlawfully and maliciously wound
or cause gbh with intent to do gbh.
• 2 offences created by the section – unlawfully
wounding with intent and unlawfully causing
gbh with intent
• Actus reus is same as for s.20 save that the
word cause is used instead of inflict.
• Mens rea is intention only, recklessness will
not suffice (Belfon (1976)).
• The test for intention is the same as for
murder (Bryson (1985)).