Navigating Section 18 Assault Charges And Safeguarding Your Rights
After murder and manslaughter, Section 18 Assault is the most serious type of assault that can be committed. Section 18 offences are a specific form of Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH), as laid out in the Offences against the Person Act 1861, which are distinguishable by the intent to wound or cause grievous bodily harm. In other words, harm was intended and acted upon.
It is the element of intent that makes Section 18 Assault charges so serious, resulting in correspondingly longer custodial sentences compared to the comparably lesser charge of Section 20 Assault. To put that into context, if intent can be proven, a Section 18 offence can lead to the maximum tariff of life imprisonment. In contrast, a Section 20 Assault, which is deemed reckless rather than intentional, carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
In this blog, the DPP Law team explains the potential consequences of a Section 18 conviction and provides an overview of how to protect your rights when faced with such charges, potential defence strategies, and what to expect if your case goes to court.
What Are The Potential Consequences Of A Section 18 Assault Conviction?
The worst case scenario for a Section 18 Assault conviction is life imprisonment. However, the potential consequences can differ depending on the specific circumstances.
The majority of Section 18 convictions lead to custodial sentences ranging from three to 12 years’ imprisonment, in accordance with the severity of the case. This is determined by the seriousness of the injuries incurred by the victim and other culpability factors, such as previous convictions; the use of a weapon; a repeated, prolonged or planned attack; and the vulnerability of the victim.
It’s also worth noting that an assault charge will remain on your criminal record for life and will be visible to potential employers through a DBS check. Therefore, a Section 18 Assault charge could well affect your employability for certain roles. It could also affect your eligibility to enter certain countries.
How Can I Protect My Rights After Being Charged With Section 18 Assault?
Safeguarding your rights in Section 18 Assault cases begins and ends with effective legal representation. Therefore, the best way to protect your rights is to contact DPP Law’s expert assault solicitors at the earliest possible juncture – ideally before attending an initial police interview where possible. That way our experienced assault solicitors can begin mounting a strong defence on your behalf, examining all the available evidence to support your case.
What Role Do Law Enforcement, Prosecutors, And Defence Solicitors Play In Section 18 Assault Cases?
As with any criminal case, the police, prosecutors and defence solicitors each have a specific role to play in any Section 18 Assault case. The police will begin to build a case as soon as you are suspected of committing an assault. The police investigation will involve gathering evidence, including statements from victims, witnesses and the accused, as well as other potential sources like CCTV footage, forensic evidence and digital evidence.
As Section 18 Assault charges are serious by their nature, the charging decision is made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS will only charge a suspect if the case passes a two-step test of there being enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and if it is in the public interest to prosecute. All Section 18 offences are dealt with in Crown Court where a CPS prosecutor will aim to prove the defendant is guilty based on the evidence.
The role of the defence solicitor is to collect as much evidence as possible – including mobile phone footage, text messages, CCTV and witness statements – to launch a robust Section 18 defence. If you enlist our services, our role will be to argue your innocence or prove that no harm was intended during the incident in question. In the latter case, it may be possible to have your charges reduced to a Section 20 offence and a lesser sentence.
What Defence Strategies Can Be Effective In Challenging Section 18 Assault Charges?
Depending on the circumstances of the case, there are several defence strategies that can be effective in challenging Section 18 Assault charges, including:
- Self-defence – If you acted reasonably to protect yourself or another person.
- Accident – If it can be shown that the victim’s injuries were accidental rather than intentional.
- Insufficient evidence – If there is insufficient evidence to prove intent beyond reasonable doubt.
- Duress – If you were forced to commit GBH under the threat of violence or harm.
Contact DPP Law For Legal Advice Today
If you’ve been accused of any form of assault or battery, particularly Section 18 Assault, contact our experienced assault solicitors at DPP Law immediately. We’re here to support and advise you from the point of your arrest right through to your appearance in court, providing you with the best possible defence.
Contact us via our emergency arrest line on 0333 200 5859 – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – or send us a message and our legal team will get back to you as quickly as we can.