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Offences Of Violence

Offences of violence range from murder at one extreme to common assault at the other. This page gives a brief introduction to each. Given the many consequences which flow from a conviction for violence it is really important to make sure you are represented at each stage of the proceedings.


Murder is where someone is killed, and the assailant intended to either kill or cause really serious bodily injury. It is important to note that there is no need to intend to kill, intending to cause serious harm is enough. Murder carries a mandatory life sentence.


There are various forms of Manslaughter but the common themes are that the victim has died as a result of an unlawful act, even though there was no intention to kill or cause really serious harm. Manslaughter sentences can be as low as two or three years in prison or as high as a life sentence.

Causing Grievous Bodily Harm With Intent (s18)

S18 of the Offences Against The Person Act makes this an offence. It is were really serious injury is caused and that was the intention of the attacker. The fact that there was an intention to cause the injury makes this a serious crime and the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. It is not uncommon to receive sentences of ten years or more for this offence.

Causing Grievous Bodily Harm (s20)

This is where really serious injury is caused as a result of a criminal action, but this was not the intention of the defendant/ The maximum sentence for this is 5 years imprisonment.

Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (s47)

This is where an assault occurs and a less serious injury is caused. The maximum sentence for this is five years in prison. It is a criminal offence if the injury is caused deliberately or recklessly, but not if it was a complete accident. In those circumstances no crime occurs at all.

Common Assault/Assault by Beating (s39)

These are different ways of describing the same offence. This is where a minor assault occurs but no or only very minor injury is caused. The maximum sentence in these circumstances is six months in prison.

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