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There are numerous approaches to evaluate Law and Sentences
on particular non-fatal offenses one way in doing so is assessing the criticisms
of them. The first criticism is the language of the laws being old (in the Act
itself) as well as confusing. For example, in GBH section 20 and 18 it uses a word
such as “Malicious” nowadays nobody uses words like this, this therefore
doesn’t seem to be modernised, this was meant to define to be: “Recklessly” but
gives the idea that it means committing something in a nasty/hateful manner, it
was meant to be for the Mens Rea, but Mens Res has the definition of “with
intent”. In addition to this, the term “assault” nowadays suggests physical
injuries to a victim after hitting them. But, in terms of law it is just making
somebody feel fear, this is misleading so when a person in court claims they
have 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 criticism
I am going to talk about is that Mens Rea in Section 47 doesn’t need any extra
Mens Rea, it doesn’t have need of the person committing the crime to expect a risk/injury,
like in the case R v Roberts where
the defendant offered to give the victim a lift and then wanted to have sex
with her then she said no so he started to drive off with her at a high speed
leading her to injure herself by doing what anybody else would do, jump out. The
defendant claimed that he was unaware of risks and didn’t mean for the victim
to suffer from ABH, even though he made her feel fear which was what lead her
to jump out of the car. The third criticism I’m going to talk about is the lack
of the seriousness needed in the actual harm area in Section 20 GBH, the only
thing the prosecution need to show is that the defendant had intention to cause
some harm, which could be the smallest type of harm. Like in the case R v Mowatt where the defendant beat the
victim unconscious due to the victim confronting the defendant about the defendant’s
partner who helped steal form the victim. It was decided that the
Intention/recklessness to cause a wound and/or GBH doesn’t need proving.
Another criticism I’m going to talk about is the actual offence known as a
“Battery” being misleading, the word battery makes us think that it is where
somebody gets beaten up badly, but really it is caused by touching someone purposely.
Relating to Battery another criticism is there is no legal definition to define
both “assault & battery” the only thing close to a definition is the
requirements to cause them. Regarding ABH & GBH the separation doesn’t seem
to be visible, it is the courts that actually make the decision of what causes
serious harm, but everyone has different views on crimes and offenders,
especially when both ABH and GBH include psychological pain because it’s hard
to decide what amount of the pain of it comes under what offence, with no
boundary as a guidance there will be no proper way in deciding. The final
criticism I will be talking about is using a “wound” to separate Section 18
from 20 being useless as there should only be one Section for GBH because of
the case Moriarty v Brookes where
the defendant hit a customer and used force to remove him from a pub. He was
guilty as he broke the layers of the skin, but compared to a needle prick, you
can easily see that the needle isn’t a serious as the punches, so I believe if
they had one Section they can easily charge somebody with GBH and giving them a
suitable sentence rather that deciding over a wound.

GBH Section 18 is the offence of inflicting either a wound
or GBH. The Actus Reus in Section 18 is to wound/ cause GBH to the victim. The
Mens Rea is the direct intention to cause GBH and not recklessness. The maximum
sentence for GBH Section 18 is 25 years as it’s the more serious out of Section
20 and 18. In addition to this, GBH Section 20 is the offence of inflicting a wound
or GBH to the victim. The Mens Rea for this is the intention/ recklessness to
cause some harm to the victim. The maximum sentence for GBH Section 20 is 5
years 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 is
intention or recklessness to commit the assault or battery or both. In ABH Section
47 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 possibly
psychologically injure them, this is unfair as they will be charged under ABH Section
47 and will have the same sentence as someone who has amounted GBH. Also, an
assault can just be committed by saying something to make the victim feel
immediate fear. An example of GBH Section 20 is breaking someone’s bone. ABH Section
47 is caused by the slight direct touch. By knowing this it is clear that the
sentencing for these non-fatal offences have not been thought through due to
the difference is the elements of committing the crimes. There are some
similarities in the crimes such as intention, but nothing major that fit GBH Section
20 and ABH Section 47 into the same sentencing. Therefore, I believe that the sentencing
for these opposite crimes should be reconsidered. However, the maximum sentence
for GBH Section 18 is 25 years. This is a very big gap between the non-fatal
offences even though GBH Section 20 and Section 18 are very similar in terms of
the wounding, the problem seems to be if the sentence length should be
dependent on the intention of causing GBH such as Recklessness or Direct
intention? I believe Section 18 and Section 20 should both have the same
sentence such as 10-15 years in prison where the judge is able to decide on the
length of the sentence depending on how severe the victim’s injuries are.

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To finalize I’m going to talk about the reforms from the Law
Commission regarding the Non-Fatal offences.  One reform I’m going to focus on is the one
that creates a simplification where “Sections are replaced with “Clauses”. For example,
Section 18 (as defined above) would become
Clause 1. The Actus Reus for Clause 1 is causing serious injury to
the victim, “injury” has substituted “Bodily Harm”. The Mens Rea for Clause 1
is the Intention to cause a serious injury. Section 20 (as defined above), would become Clause 2. The Actus reus for Clause
2 is causing serious injury to the victim also, so now they both have the
same Actus Reus. The Mens Rea on the other hand is recklessly causing serious
injury which is relevant for GBH Section 20. By the difference in the Mens Rea
a clear difference is set. Section 47 would
be Clause 3. The Actus Reus for Clause 3 is to cause injury to the
victim, not serious injury. The Mens Rea is intentionally or recklessly causing
this less serious injury. Another reform to simplify is idea of a Common Assault which is the idea of
being charged with a Common Assault instead
of Section 47. A Common Assault shares
the same elements as both Assault and
Battery but it’s in a way merged into one, Common Assault is followed
by the following types of Assaults: Physical Assaults, Aggravated Assaults,
Threatened Assaults. Physical Assaults Actus
Reus is where the defendant without permission touches the victim, as touch can
cause a battery and it doesn’t have to be forced. The Mens Rea is to commit
this intentionally or recklessly. Threatened
Assaults Actus Reus is to cause the victim to feel immediate unlawful
violence. This has the same Mens Rea as Physical
Assault. Aggravated Assaults Actus Reus is to cause minor injury to the
victim. The Mens Rea is the intention or recklessness to cause a common assault
either physical or threatened.

 

Bibliography

 

Criticisms
of Non-Fatal Offences

http://www.bitsoflaw.org/criminal/offences-against-the-person/study-note/a-level/non-fatal-evaluation-reform 
 

Sentencing

Based
off Task 2 (Anna and Ben)

Reforms

http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/app/uploads/2015/11/lc361_offences_against_the_person_summary.pdf

 

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