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Home Violent Crimes: Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)

Grievous bodily harm is a serious and violent offence. It is a form of violent crime which actually entails the use of force and illegal contact on the person of the victim resulting in severe injury.   Grievous bodily harm or GBH as it is more commonly referred to in English Law, is only a step away from murder or manslaughter; also forms of violent crimes. As far as violent offences go therefore, GBH is high up on the list. Under the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, GBH is either committed with intent; that is a deliberate and premeditated act under the provisions of Sec 18 (also known as section 18 GBH) or unlawful and malicious wounding occasioning grievous bodily harm under sec 20 (commonly referred to as section 20 GBH). The major difference between the two categories listed above is the intention to cause serious physical harm under section 18 GBH. This mental element of premeditation means that GBH with intent is a more serious crime than malicious or unlawful wounding under section 20 GBH.

The penal servitude or sentence for GBH under the 1861 Act was life imprisonment. This goes to show the gravity attached to GBH cases. And although life sentence is no longer considered the appropriate punishment for GBH offences, the punishment for grievous bodily harm offence remains quite heavy upon conviction. This is on account of the fact that wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm may, in many cases, result in murder; brining to the fore the seriousness of the offence.

GBH Solicitors London

For a case of this gravity, it goes without saying that you deserve the very best legal representation possible. Grievous bodily harm punishment can be a considerable prison sentence. Even attempted GBH, a lesser crime, may attract a custodial sentence and/or fine. You owe it to yourself to employ the services of a seasoned network of criminal defence solicitors who have a proven track record of success in criminal defence in general and grievous bodily harm defence in particular. At London’s most prominent criminal defence law network, our team of expert criminal lawyers have combined, staggering years of experiencing in defending GBH, attempted GBH, ABH and other equally or even more serious violent crime cases such as murder and manslaughter.

GBH ChargeGrievous Bodily Harm is a Violent Offence


Furthermore, we are a network of professionals to the core and this will be evident to you from the very moment you pick up the phone and speak to one of our members of staff. You will be asked the most basic details so as to allow our secretaries direct your call to the most appropriate solicitor with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the area of law you require. Confidentiality is one of our watch words, as is discretion, and as such, you can be rest assured that any conversation you have with any of our lawyers and other members of staff in relation to your case will never be divulged to a third party. There will of course be an exception in a case like GBH where it might be necessary for us to instruct counsel on your behalf.

GBH Sentencing

Sentencing for grievous bodily harm with intent, attempted grievous bodily harm or assault GBH can range from any custodial term to a maximum of 25 years for a GBH offence. There is however a significant difference between occasioning GBH with intent; malice aforethought, and causing GBH by mistake or miscalculation. In the latter case, it is possible for an individual who merely wishes to trip another person on the stairs to miscalculate and push the other person who ends up falling down a very long flight of stairs and sustaining grievous bodily harm in the process.

With very experienced and efficient lawyers, this hypothetical suspect should be able to convince the jury that contrary to the CPS’ claim that the push was premeditated and the fall intended to have caused such severe harm, he or she had merely miscalculated and assumed the stairs to be much shorter. The sentencing for a GBH charge in such an instance is a maximum of 5 years upon conviction.  However where it can be proven by the prosecution that the suspect had indeed intended for the victim to fall all the way to the bottom of the stairs and that the suspect was aware of how steep and long the stairs were; it may be very difficult to rely on a lack of premeditation defence. Upon conviction, a section 18 offence of inflicting serious wound with malice aforethought may attract as high as 25 years imprisonment.

GBH Defence Lawyers

Whilst we will be unable to guarantee the exact outcome of your case, as a network with solicitors who have amassed experience over the last few decades, we are best placed in advising you of all the possibilities we face. It is most essential for us to be able to prepare your case with the diligence and level of dedication we are used to. We will need to find every possible ground on which we can potentially build your defence. It would be most advantageous to our case to be able to evidence that the actual GBH was not premeditated. In a case where this was evidently the case however, our London criminal solicitor will need to find other grounds for defence.

Were you trying to defend yourself against what promised to be an equally severe attack which would have caused you really serious body harm? Were you defending someone else who the victim was inflicting serious injury on? Were you defending your property and/or family members against burglary attack? Did you perhaps mistake the victim’s identity? These are just a few grounds we could potentially build defences against GBH charges on. Other relevant ones may also become apparent during case preparation and of course from meeting and talking through the incident with you.

As usual, the onus of proof rests with the prosecutor and it is left for the CPS to evidence to the judge and jury that the two essential mental elements of intention and guilty act; mens rea and actus reus were present at the time the crime was allegedly committed. We will counter argue, where appropriate, that the act was not premeditated or that the GBH assault was planned before hand. In any event, we will call on all available resources to reduce your charge from a Section 18 GBH to a Section 20 GBH charge, if possible. The importance of this and the significance is evident in the sentencing either offence attracts.

The good news for our clients is that there are defences to both offences; wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and GBH without intent. We will simply have to burn the proverbial midnight oil on the materials held by the prosecution as well as the invaluable information you will provide us with once we are instructed to find the appropriate and relevant defence grounds which may be most applicable in your case. With over 20 years of successful criminal defence work, we are confident that if there is a ground we can build your GBH defence on, we will find it and utilise the same to the maximum level.


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