Offence against the person

In criminal law, an offence against the person usually refers to a crime which is committed by direct physical harm or force being applied to another person.

They are usually analysed by division into the following categories:

  • Fatal offences
  • Sexual offences
  • Non-fatal non-sexual offences

They can be further analysed by division into:

  • Assaults
  • Injuries

And it is then possible to consider degrees and aggravations.

Offences against the person are usually taken to comprise:

  • Fatal offences
    • Murder
    • Manslaughter
  • Non-fatal non-sexual offences
    • Assault, or common assault
    • Battery, or common battery
    • Wounding or wounding with intent
    • Poisoning[1]
    • Assault occasioning actual bodily harm (and derivative offences)
    • Inflicting grievous bodily harm or causing grievous bodily harm with intent (and derivative offences)[2]

The crimes are usually grouped together in common law countries as a legacy of the Offences against the Person Act 1861.

Although most sexual offences will also be offences against the person,[3] for various reasons (including sentencing and registration of offenders) sexual crimes are usually categorised separately. Similarly, although many homicides also involve an offence against the person, they are usually categorised under the more serious category.

Contents

United Kingdom

England and Wales

Fatal offences

Sexual offences

Non-fatal non-sexual offences

For offences of aggravated assault, see Assault#England and Wales

  • Administering poison, so as to endanger life, contrary to section 23 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861[4]
  • Administering poison, contrary to section 24 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861[5]
  • Unlawful wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm, contrary to section 20 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861
  • Wounding or causing grievous bodily harm with intent, contrary to section 18 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861

Visiting Forces Act 1952

The expression "offence against the person" is used as a term of art in section 3 of the Visiting Forces Act 1952 (15 & 16 Geo.6 & 1 Eliz.2 c.67) and is defined for that purpose by paragraphs 1 (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) and 2 (Scotland) of the Schedule to that Act.

England and Wales and Northern Ireland

In the application of section 3 of the 1952 Act to England and Wales and Northern Ireland it means any of the following offences:

  • murder, manslaughter, torture, robbery and assault and any offence of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring suicide or an attempt to commit suicide[6]
  • any offence not falling within the foregoing bullet point, being an offence punishable under any of the following enactments:
  • an offence of making such a threat as is mentioned in subsection (3)(a) of section 1 of the Internationally Protected Persons Act 1978 and any of the following offences against a protected person within the meaning of that section, namely an offence of kidnapping, an offence of false imprisonment and an offence under section 2 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883 of causing an explosion likely to endanger life
  • an offence under section 2 of the Nuclear Material (Offences) Act 1983, where the circumstances are that either in the case of a contravention of subsection (2), the act falling within paragraph (a) or (b) of that subsection would, had it been done, have constituted an offence falling within sub-paragraph (a) or (b) of this paragraph, or in the case of a contravention of subsection (3) or (4), the act threatened would, had it been done, have constituted such an offence
  • an offence of making such a threat as is mentioned in section 3 of the United Nations Personnel Act 1997 and any of the following offences against a UN worker within the meaning of that Act

It formerly included in particular:

  • rape and buggery[10] (presumably including at common law)
  • offences of rape and buggery under the law of Northern Ireland[11]
  • offences punishable under
    • section 89 of the Mental Health Act (Northern Ireland) 1948 (which related to certain offences against mentally defective females)[12]
    • sections 2 to 28 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956[13]
    • section 1 of the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985[14]

Scotland

In the application of section 3 of the 1952 Act to Scotland, the expression "offence against the person" means any of the following offences:

  • murder, culpable homicide, rape, torture, robbery, assault, incest, sodomy, lewd, indecent and libidinous practices, procuring abortion, abduction, cruel and unnatural treatment of persons, threats to murder or to injure persons
  • any offence not falling within the last bullet point, being an offence punishable under any of the following enactments:
  • an offence of making such a threat as is mentioned in subsection (3)(a) of section 1 of the Internationally Protected Persons Act 1978 and the following offence against a protected person within the meaning of that section, namely, an offence under section 2 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883 of causing an explosion likely to endanger life
  • an offence under section 2 of the Nuclear Material (Offences) Act 1983, where the circumstances are that either, in the case of a contravention of subsection (2), the act falling within paragraph (a) or (b) of that subsection would, had it been done, have constituted an offence falling within sub-paragraph (a) or (b) of this paragraph, or, in the case of a contravention of subsection (3) or (4), the act threatened would, had it been done, have constituted such an offence
  • an offence of making such a threat as is mentioned in section 3 of the United Nations Personnel Act 1997 and an offence of causing an explosion likely to endanger life, committed against a UN worker (within the meaning of that Act), under section 2 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883

See also

Offences Against the Person Act

Footnotes

  1. ^ Often referred to as administration of a noxious substance in legal parlance.
  2. ^ Some legal systems have two separate crimes: occasioning grievous bodily harm, and intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm.
  3. ^ For example, it would be legally impossible to rape another person without also committing a battery against them
  4. ^ This expression is used by Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice, 1999, para 19-224, in a specimen count, in the statement of the offence. The particulars of the offence in the specimen count actually charge administration of "a poison or other destructive or noxious thing".
  5. ^ This expression is used by Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice, 1999, para 19-224, in a specimen count, in the statement of the offence. The particulars of the offence in the specimen count actually charge administration of "a poison or other destructive or noxious thing".
  6. ^ The reference to an offence of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring suicide or an attempt to commit suicide is prospectively replaced by a reference to an offence under section 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 or section 13(1) of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 (encouraging or assisting suicide) by http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2009/25/schedule/21/paragraph/54/prospective which is not yet in force
  7. ^ Substited by http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/31/section/7/prospective
  8. ^ Inserted by http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/schedule/6/paragraph/8
  9. ^ http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisi/2008/1769/schedule/1/paragraph/10/prospective
  10. ^ http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/schedule/6/paragraph/8 and http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/schedule/7
  11. ^ inserted by http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/schedule/6/paragraph/8, repealed by http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisi/2008/1769/schedule/1/paragraph/10/prospective
  12. ^ repealed by http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisi/2008/1769/schedule/1/paragraph/10/prospective
  13. ^ repealed by http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/schedule/7
  14. ^ Substituted by http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/31/section/7/prospective

External links

"Bronitt". http://law.anu.edu.au/UnitUploads/LAWS8160-7690-Pages%20from%20Bronitt-chap%2010.pdf. Retrieved 2008-10-16.  A textbook on offences against the person.



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