There are many ways to evaluate Law and Sentences on specificnon-fatal offences, one way in doing so is looking at the criticisms ofnon-fatal offences. The first criticism is the language of the laws being old(in the Act itself).
For example, in GBH section 20 and 18 it uses terms suchas “Malicious” in modern day society nobody uses words like this, thistherefore doesn’t seem to be modernised, this does define to be: “with intent”but gives the impression it infers committing something in a nasty/hatefulmanner. In addition to this, the term “assault” in modern day society implies physicalinjuries to a victim after beating them. But, in terms of law it is just makingsomebody feel fear, this is misleading so when a person in court claims theyhave been assaulted they really mean they have been a victim of either: GBH,ABH or a Battery depending on the seriousness of the injuries. Another criticismI am going to talk about is the fact that Mens Rea in Section 47 doesn’t needany extra Mens Rea, it doesn’t have the requirement of the defendant to foreseea risk/injury, like in the case R v Robertswhere the defendant offered to give the victim a lift and then demanded herto have sex with him as she said no he drove off with her at a high speedleading her to injure herself by jumping out.
The defendant claimed that he wasunaware of risks and didn’t mean for the victim to suffer from ABH, even thoughhe put her in a fearful state of mind leading to her jumping out of his car. Thethird criticism I’m going to talk about is the lack of the seriousness neededin the actual harm sector in Section 20 GBH, the only thing the prosecutionneed to show is that the defendant had intention to cause some harm, whichcould be the smallest form of harm. Like in the case R v Mowatt where the defendant beat the victim unconscious due tothe victim confronting the defendant about the defendant’s partner who helpedsteal form the victim. It was decided that the Intention/recklessness to causea wound and/or GBH doesn’t need proving. Another criticism I’m going to talk aboutis the actual offence known as a “Battery” being misleading.
SentencingGBH Section 18 is the offence of inflicting either a woundor GBH. The Actus Reus in Section 18 is to wound/ cause GBH to the victim. TheMens Rea is the direct intention to cause GBH and not recklessness. The maximumsentence for GBH Section 18 is 25 years as it’s the more serious out of Section20 and 18.
In addition to this, GBH Section 20 is the offence of inflicting a woundor GBH to the victim. The Mens Rea for this is the intention/ recklessness tocause some harm to the victim. The maximum sentence for GBH Section 20 is 5years in prison as it’s the least serious of the two. Moreover Section 47 ABH,can be caused by either an assault or battery. The Mens Rea for this isintention or recklessness to commit the assault or battery or both. In ABH Section47 touching someone else’s clothes or spitting on them can amount to a battery.
Even though they do not physically injure the victim, but they could possiblypsychologically injure them, this is unfair as they will be charged under ABH Section47 and will have the same sentence as someone who has amounted GBH. Also, anassault can just be committed by saying something to make the victim feelimmediate fear. An example of GBH Section 20 is breaking someone’s bone. ABH Section47 is caused by the slight direct touch. By knowing this it is clear that thesentencing for these non-fatal offences have not been thought through due tothe difference is the elements of committing the crimes.
There are some similaritiesin the crimes such as intention, but nothing major that fit GBH Section 20 and ABHSection 47 into the same sentencing. Therefore, I believe that the sentencingfor these opposite crimes should be reconsidered. However, the maximum sentencefor GBH Section 18 is 25 years. This is a very big gap between the non-fataloffences even though GBH Section 20 and Section 18 are very similar in terms ofthe wounding, the problem seems to be if the sentence length should bedependent on the intention of causing GBH such as Recklessness or Directintention? I believe Section 18 and Section 20 should both have the samesentence such as 10-15 years in prison where the judge is able to decide on thelength of the sentence depending on how severe the victim’s injuries are.