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Actual Bodily Harm

Actual Bodily Harm

In English criminal law, actual bodily harm (ABH) is a criminal offence that is defined under section 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. It is considered a less serious offence compared to grievous bodily harm (GBH), but it can still result in significant punishment, including imprisonment.


ABH is defined as the intentional or reckless infliction of harm or injury on another person that is not serious enough to amount to GBH. The harm can be either physical or psychological, but it must be more than mere touching or minor injuries.


Examples of ABH may include injuries such as cuts, bruises, and black eyes that may require medical attention, or causing a victim to suffer from long-term psychological harm, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.


The punishment for ABH in English criminal law depends on the specific circumstances of the case, including the severity of the harm caused and the intention of the perpetrator. If convicted, the offender can face a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment.


It is important to note that ABH is an offence that is triable either way, which means that it can be tried in either the Magistrates' Court or the Crown Court, depending on the seriousness of the case. In the Magistrates' Court, the maximum sentence that can be imposed is 12 months' imprisonment, while in the Crown Court, the maximum sentence is five years' imprisonment.


You can learn more about this topic and relevant case law with our Criminal Law notes.

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