What is a Section 18 Assault?

Under Grievous Bodily Harm, there are two separate offences: Section 18 assault and Section 20 Assault.

Grievous Bodily Harm, or GBH, can be defined as the purposeful causing of serious injury to another person. If a person’s skin is broken, Unlawful Wounding could also be considered to have taken place. Psychiatric injury can also constitute a GBH charge.

In terms of whether an injury is considered “serious” or not, there is no real criteria laid out in law; it’s usually up to a jury to decide the severity of the individual’s suffering, and whether it should be labelled Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) or Actual Bodily Harm (ABH), a slightly lesser criminal offence.

Section 18 assault (GBH) specifically refers to an offence described as either “wounding with intent” or “causing grievous bodily harm with intent” and is the most serious form of assault (save for murder and manslaughter) that can be committed. Simply put, it’s a situation where one person intends to cause harm to any person and commits said harm.

Legislation surrounding the definition of these terms, as well as regulations for the trial and conviction of any person suspected of these particular crimes, was laid out in the Offences against the Person Act 1861.

To be facing a charge of Section 18 Assault, a defendant may have:

  • Launched a repeat or planned attack
  • Deliberately selected weapons or adapted an article to cause injury (such as breaking a glass before an attack)
  • Made prior threats
  • Used an offensive weapon against a victim’s head
  • Kicked a victim’s head

Section 18 Assault: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Sentencing Guidelines for Section 18 Assault?

Section 18 offences must be dealt with in Crown Court, and it carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Previous convictions may also influence the perceived seriousness of the crime.

This contrasts with Section 20, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years custodial sentence. This can also be dealt with in Magistrates’ Court, in which the maximum sentence is six months imprisonment.

Specific sentencing guidelines for violent offences can be found on the Sentencing Council website.

Is Section 18 Worse Than GBH?

Section 18 assault is a specific form of GBH, one which carries a longer custodial sentence than section 20. The difference between section 18 and section 20 depends on a number of factors, including intent.

How Long Do You Go To Jail For Section 18?

The maximum sentence for a Section 18 conviction is a life sentence. This is due to the nature of the offence and the clear intent.

Can You Get Bail If You’ve Been Charged With a Section 18?

If the criminal offence committed was particularly violent, or it is believed that the suspect is at risk of offending again, it is possible for a person accused of GBH with intent – particularly Section 18 Assault – to be refused bail. If bail is granted, by the police or Crown Court it may be subject to conditions eg. Not to contact a person or approach a place.

What Should You Do If You Have Been Accused of a GBH Charge?

It’s vital that you make contact with an experienced criminal lawyer to help mount your defence, and, with their assistance, begin to collect evidence – including phone footage, text messages, CCTV and witness statements – to prove your innocence.

A recent and unusual case in which a defendant was found guilty of assault, unlawful wounding and GBH is that of body modification artist “Dr Evil”, also known as Brendan McCarthy from Wolverhampton.

Mr McCarthy sought the consent of his clients to perform extreme procedures without anaesthetic. However, he was still ruled to have acted unlawfully and maliciously, as it was successfully argued that the law should take steps to protect the “personal anatomy” of members of the general public. As such, McCarthy should not have been performing “significant surgical procedures” without the relevant licence.

How to Get Section 18 Reduced to Section 20 Assault?

If you have sufficient evidence to prove that you did not intend to cause serious harm during the incident that led to your being charged with assault, you may be able to have the offence in question changed to Section 20 Assault rather than Section 18. This will result in a lesser maximum sentence, and you won’t face life imprisonment.

How Can DPP Law Assist if You’ve Been Charged with Section 18 Assault?

Contact DPP Law today if you or someone you know has been accused of Section 18 Assault or arrested by a police officer for a Section 18 offence. Our criminal law solicitors can provide you with legal advice surrounding the Offences against the Person Act, and build you a strong defence.

We’ll examine all evidence collected both by yourself and the prosecution and go through the details of the alleged offence thoroughly and diligently. We’ll defend you in Crown Court and argue your innocence or prove that no harm was intended during the incident in question.

Call our specialist team now on 0333 200 5859 or fill in our contact form and we’ll get back to you immediately.