PartA1. Theshort title of the act is Offences Against the Person Act 1861. 2. Thelong title of the act is “An Act to consolidate and amend the Statute Law ofEngland and Ireland relating to Offences against the Person. 3.
Sections1-78 came into force on 1 November 1861 and S79 came into force on 6 August1861. 4. Thefirst main non-fatal offence under this Statute is S18 “Shooting or attemptingto shoot, or wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm.” This is where aperson unlawfully or maliciously wounds or cause grievous bodily harm toanother person with the intention to inflict grievous bodily harm and toprevent the lawful apprehension.1This means that any person who deliberately causes physical injury to anotherperson which is against the law and foresaw the harm to another person.
Thedefinition can be taken from the case of JJC v Eisenhower 2where in order for a scratch to become a wound, there had to be a break in theinner and outer epidermis and not just the surface of the skin. Grievous BodilyHarm is viewed as really serious harm and can include recklessness and psychiatricinjury as seen by DPP v Smith3and R v Burstow4. BothActus Reus and Mens Rea elements are required, for instance internal bleedingand substantial blood loss which can amount to grievous bodily harm and theintention to commit grievous bodily harm.
The second main non-fatal offenceunder this Statute is S20 “Inflicting bodily injury, with or without a weapon.”This is where a person unlawfully and maliciously wounds or inflicts grievousbodily harm with or without the use of a weapon on another person.5This means that any person who deliberately causes physical injury to anotherperson as seen by JJC v Eisenhower.
6The Actus Reus element mirrors those of a S18 offence however the Mens Reaelement is subjective and requires the defendant to have foreseen some sort ofinjury to the other person as seen by R v Savage.7 The third main non-fatal offenceagainst the person is S47 “Assault occasioning bodily harm.”8This is where ‘a person causes injury to the other person in order to affectthe health or comfort of another person’ as seen by R v Miller.9This means that injury can be sustained by any parts of the body which canimpact on a person’s well-being such as a broken nose, minor fractures orcutting of hair as seen by DPP v Smith10.The Mens Rea of the crime requires the defendant to have intended the harmhowever it is subjective which means it is from the defendant’s point of view. 5. S18defined as “Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously… wound or cause grievousbodily harm to another person… with intent or to resist…the lawfulapprehension.
..” Similarly to S20 which is defined as “Whosoever shallunlawfully and maliciously wound or inflict any grievous bodily harm upon anyother person… with or without any weapon…” The main difference between a S18and S20 offence is the Mens Rea element. S18 requires the defendant to intentto cause GBH or to resist the lawful apprehension of another person whereas S20requires the defendant to have foreseen some physical harm to the victim andincludes any reckless actions by the defendant as seen by R v Savage.11This can be seen from the scenario in relation to grievous bodily harm whereHamza grabbed a beer bottle and broke it over Vicky’s head which demonstrateshow really serious harm was inflicted on Vicky as it led to ‘severe bleeding’as seen by DDP v Smith (1961).
12 With regards to S20, Hamza foresaw thathitting a glass bottle (a weapon or instrument) over another person’s headwould lead to serious harm which resulted in the glass cutting ‘deeply intoVicky’s neck,’ thus suffering a wound and breaking both layers of the externalskin as seen by JCC v Eisenhower (1984).13In relation to the CPS Indicators and S18, grievous bodily harm can beestablished as Hamza can be seen as deliberately grabbing a ‘beer bottle’ whichdemonstrates how he intended to cause grievous bodily harm upon Vicky as theywere engaging in a fight. To conclude, S18 requires intention from thedefendant to do grievous bodily harm whereas S20 requires the defendant to haveforeseen really serious harm and is subjective.
6. Inthis scenario, Barry slide tackled Ravandeep in a game of football leading toBarry’s studs sliding down the back of Ravandeep’s leg resulting in a cut thatrequired three stiches. The offence committed under the Offences against thePersons Act 1861 is S47 Assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Actual bodilyharm can be defined as “Any hurt or injury calculated to interfere with thehealth or comfort of the victim” as seen by Miller.14 Theinjury suffered by Ravandeep was a cut which did ‘interfere with the health orcomfort of the victim’ as he required medical attention at the hospital whichsatisfies the definition well. However,it can be said that when establishing the Mens Rea, Barry seems to have beenreckless as Barry went to tackle Ravandeep without it being hostile ormalicious. A possible defence that Barrycould raise is the issue of consent. The football game was organised byRavandeep, Barry and their friends so valid consent was given to participate.This means that any tackling that occurred can be seen as reasonablyforeseeable as it consists within the rules of the sport as seen by Barnes.15 Furthermore,Barry’s actions seemed to have been done with some degree of force as Ravandeeprequired three stiches after the tackle however as the game was organised andthe rules were taken into account, he did not go beyond the limits of the gameto deliberately cause harm to Ravandeep or be charged with a S47 offence. 7.
Theproposals for reform of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 are asfollowed in the Law Commission Report dated November 2015: A clear hierarchy ofthe offences in terms of how serious the offence is to avoid confusion andoffences to overlap, to relax the terminology used for offences to keep up withthe modern era, to eliminate archaic language and to get rid of unnecessaryoffences that are not common in society today. With regards to a clear hierarchy, areason for reform is that “The hierarchy is not based exclusively onseriousness… by the harm caused or by the offender’s state of mind”16which demonstrates the lack of clarity among the offences. Furthermore, thereare a large number of cases were “minor injuries could be charged as eitherassault or battery…”17which may not match the actions of the defendant due to different maximumsentencing. This is evident from Sections 18 and 20 where Section 18 isperceived to be the more serious offence than Section 20 and Section 47, eventhough “the maximum sentence for the offences under Sections 20 and 47 is thesame (5 years)18,” thisshows no clear distinguishment between the offences or how serious each offenceactually is.
In relation to the complexity of thelanguage used to describe the offences, there seems to be a large number ofindividual offences which criminalise for the same injury. An example is seenin Section 18 where an offence “can be committed by causing grievous bodilyharm or wounding, whilst intending to cause grievous bodily harm or to resistor prevent apprehension or detention.”19Thus, demonstrating a variety of ways for the offence to be committed which mayhave been common during the Victorian era however it would not match a “moderncriminal statute to define offences.”20 A separate issue relates to the use ofunnecessary offences, for instance “the offences of impeding someone escaping ashipwreck”21 whichare not common in today’s society and can come under other offences outlined inthe Act. This demonstrates how the Act is outdated and matched according toVictorian factual scenarios.
22 The archaic language used links to thecomplexity of the terminology used and does not match the language use in the21st century courts. For instance, the term “penal servitude, whichoriginally meant a sentence involving hard labour but is now deemed to meanimprisonment.”23 Thisshows how confusion can occur easily amongst the courts and the way the law isinterpreted during trials. 1 OffencesAgainst the Person Act 1861, page 42 1984Q.B. 3313 1961AC 2904 1997 1Cr. App R.
1445 OffencesAgainst the Person Act 1861, page 56 JJC vEisenhower (n 2) 3317 1992 1A.C.6998 OffencesAgainst the Persons Act 1861, page 179 1954 2Q.B 28210 20061 W.
L.R. 157111 R vSavage (n 7) 69912 DDP vSmith (n 10) 157113 JCC vEisenhower (n 2) 33114 R vMiller (n 9) 28215 2004EWCA Crim 324616 LawCommission, Reforming the law, (LawCom No 361, 2015) paragraph 1.717 Ibid, paragraph1.918 LawCommission, Reforming the law, (LawCom No 361, 2015) paragraph 3.4 (1)19 Ibid, paragraphs1.11-1.1220 Ibid, paragraph 1.1321 Ibid, paragraph 1.1422 Ibid, paragraph 1.1423 Ibid, paragraph 1.15