4.1.1 Assault, Battery and ABH – Introduction

Welcome to the fourth topic in this module guide – Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person! Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person encompass a range of offences where a person is caused some harm, but the harm does not result in death. There is a gradient scale of offences based on the level of harm caused to the victim and the level of intent demonstrated by the defendant. Each of these offences has their own actus reus and mens rea and are accompanied by charging guidelines as to the type of injuries they encompass. All of these elements must be considered when looking at a possible offence.

An assault occurs where someone intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend (or fear) immediate unlawful violence. A battery occurs where a person intentionally or recklessly applies unlawful force. In legal terms, crimes will often involve an element of both assault and battery and the two are charged together as a common assault. Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) occurs where a person commits any hurt calculated to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim; such hurt need not be permanent, but must be more than transient and trifling. These offences are charged under section 39 Criminal Justice Act 1988 (common assault), and section 47 Offences against the Person Act 1861 (ABH) respectively.

Goals for this section:

  • To understand the actus reus and mens rea components of assault, battery and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
  • To appreciate the charging and sentencing guidelines for each of the offences mentioned above.

Objectives for this section:

  • To be able to identify the type and level of harm encompassed by assault, battery and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, which can be ascertained by referring to case studies in this field.
  • To be able to analyse and evaluate the nuances of all the non-fatal offences, as required in an examination.

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