BOTH grievous bodily harm and actual bodily harm are serious offences which can carry significant sentences for those convicted.
Here’s what you need to know about the differences between ABH and GBH, and the penalties which these crimes can cause.
GBH and ABH are both serious offences (stock image)
What is ABH?
Actual bodily harm is a criminal offence under the Offences against the Person Act 1861.
Assaults which are described as actual bodily harm cause injuries which are serious but don’t cause serious permanent damage to the victim.
For example, this may be an injury which requires stitches.
Prosecutors or investigating cops are left to decide whether an injury is sufficiently severe or not.
The Crown Prosecution Service suggests that any injury which affects the victim’s health or comfort can be actual bodily harm.
The perpetrator also doesn’t necessarily have to intended to have caused an injury.
They only have to have intended to apply unlawful force. This is known as committing the offence “recklessly”, as opposed to “intentionally”.
For example, if a person pushes another person and they fall causing an injury, they can still be convicted of ABH because they intended to push the person.
The Crown Prosecution Service recommends a charge of ABH, instead of the lesser Common Assault, in cases where a sentence of over six months is likely.
What is GBH?
Grievous bodily harm is also a criminal offence under the Offences against the Person Act 1861.
It is a more serious crime than ABH – as committing GBH means causing extremely serious injuries which severely affect the health of the victim.
These can include broken bones or permanent disfigurement. GBH the most serious form of non-fatal assault.
Unlike ABH, there is a question of intent. Section 18 GBH offences involve some aspect of intent, while section 20 offences are still unlawful and malicious, but lack the intent to cause really serious injury.
Intent can be shown through, for example, threats, deliberately using a weapon, or planning the attack.
What are the maximum penalties for GBH and ABH?
ABH carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or an unlimited fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.
For GBH, those convicted under section 20 in a Crown Court face a maximum of five years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
Offenders convicted in a Magistrates’ Court face a maximum penalty of six months behind bars and/or a fine.
Those GBH under section 18 can only be tried in a Crown Court – and the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.