Violent criminality can cover an extremely wide range of matters: from the public order offences which result in relatively minor injury, to serious assaults causing grievous bodily harm with life-changing implications for the victim. The penalties on conviction are correspondingly varied: from an out of court disposal such as a caution or fixed penalty notice, to life imprisonment.
Defending an unmerited criminal allegation of violence can be a complex matter requiring a significant amount of work done at speed. Securing evidence such as CCTV and witness statements can often prove crucial to establishing a defence such as self-defence or mistaken identity.
Anyone who has been – or suspects they may be – investigated in connection with violent criminal matter is advised to seek expert legal opinion as soon as possible.
Public Order offences range from disorderly behaviour to affray, violent disorder and riot. These offences can be committed in a public or private place however the more minor offences of disorderly behaviour cannot be committed if the conduct takes place inside a dwelling and the person to whom it is directed is inside that or another dwelling.
An assault is defined as conduct that intentionally or recklessly causes a victim to apprehend immediate unlawful violence. There are a number of different assault offences, depending on the level of injuries involved and the intention of the person accused. Each has different possible sentences if a person is found guilty.
Common Assault – where there is no injury, or injuries are relatively minor, such as scratches, grazes or minor bruising. This carries a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment. These cases can only be tried in a Magistrates’ Court.
Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) – where there is evidence of actual injury. ABH carries a maximum penalty of 6 months imprisonment in the magistrates’ court, and five years’ in the Crown Court and/or an unlimited fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.
In cases where very serious injury is caused, there are two potential offences under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
The first of these (under section 20 of the Act) is inflicting Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) or wounding. This carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.
The second, and most serious offence (under Section 18 of the Act) is causing GBH or wounding with intent to cause GBH. This is where there is really serious injury, and an intention to cause GBH. The offence of causing GBH with intent carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Hickman & Rose has significant experience acting for defendants and suspects accused of violent crime. The firm’s expert lawyers excel in securing evidence such as CCTV and witness statements and explore all potential defences, including self-defence and mistaken identity. Where appropriate our lawyers can make representations to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service with a view to preventing charges being brought or seek to persuade the prosecution that less serious charges should be brought.
19 Jul 2021
Head of Serious and General Crime Jenny Wiltshire has featured in the Law Society Gazette as its “Lawyer in the News” for her work on the ‘Stockwell Six’ Court of Appeal case.
As well as…