What is Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)?

ABH is an assault when a person intentionally or recklessly causes another to suffer or unlawful violence which then inflicts minor damage to the body. Minor damage will include:

  • Grazes
  • Scratches
  • Minor bruises
  • Swellings
  • Reddening of the skin
  • Superficial cuts

The decision to charge someone for Assault rather than ABH will depend on factors such as the level of violence used, the vulnerability of the victim and the circumstances of the assault

What’s the difference between ABH and GBH?

It is the severity of harm, including psychological harm, which determines whether the offence will be ABH or GBH. ABH can be surmised as harm which may affect the health or comfort of the victim, whereas GBH amounts to really serious harm. Both offences can be committed intentionally or recklessly, and it is this which will have a severe effect on sentence.

What are the Sentencing Guidelines for ABH

The consequences for ABH range from a community order to a maximum sentence of 5 years. Prison sentences are more likely to be given if the assault is not a first-time offence. This can increase to 7 years if the offence is racially or hate related as governed by Section 29 of The Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

The length of sentence will depend on a number of different criteria:

  • Whether there have been previous offences
  • The length and strength of the attack
  • The vulnerability of the victim
  • The role in the group activity
  • The intention of the attack

What should you do if you've been charged for ABH?

If you or a family member are accused of ABH you should seek legal advice immediately. It is vital that you receive the best advice possible and provide as much detail of the facts of your case as you can to ensure the right result for you.