In English criminal law, grievous bodily harm (GBH) and actual bodily harm (ABH) are both offences against the person, but they differ in terms of the level of harm caused and the level of intent required to commit the offence.
GBH is the more serious offence of the two and is defined as the infliction of really serious harm or injury, which may include injuries such as broken bones, internal organ damage, or permanent disfigurement. GBH can be committed with either intent or recklessness as to causing serious harm.
On the other hand, ABH is the less serious offence and is defined as the infliction of any injury that is more than trivial or minor, but less serious than GBH. Examples of injuries that may amount to ABH include bruising, scratches, or cuts. ABH can be committed with either intent or recklessness as to causing some injury.
The level of intent required to commit the offence is also different. For GBH, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to cause really serious harm, while for ABH, the prosecution only needs to prove that the defendant intended to cause some harm, or was reckless as to causing harm.
The penalties for these offences also differ, with GBH carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and ABH carrying a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment. The severity of the injury and the level of intent involved will be taken into account when determining the appropriate sentence.
In summary, the key differences between GBH and ABH in English criminal law are the level of harm caused, the level of intent required to commit the offence, and the severity of the penalties.
You can learn more about this topic and relevant case law with our Criminal Law notes.