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Criminal Law Explained – ABH Actual Bodily Harm

Articles, Crime, Criminal Law Explained

In this “Criminal Law Explained” article we will take you through the law, the sentencing and the defence for the offence of Section 47 ABH ( Actual Bodily Harm ) in England & Wales.

This offence is committed when a person intentionally or recklessly assaults another person, causing Actual Bodily Harm. “Bodily Harm” means any hurt, which interferes with the health or comfort of a person.  It need not be permanent harm, but it must be more than short term or petty. This can also include psychological harm.

Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, is contained within Section 47 Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

What is ABH (Actual Bodily Harm)?

The act: The application of unlawful force to another; and the application of force results in any hurt that interferes with the health or comfort of a victim.

The intent: At the time of the application of force, the accused must either intend the application of force or should have foreseen their conduct was likely to result in the application of force to another.

The prosecution will need to prove both elements mentioned above to secure a conviction of ABH against a Defendant.

What is the Sentence for Section 47 ABH?


  • A custodial (prison) sentence of up to 5 years
  • Community Order
  • Fine

Sentencing Guidelines

Offence Category
Category 1
Category 2
Category 3
Starting Point
(Applicable to all offenders)
1 year 6 months’ custody
26 weeks’ custody
Medium level community order
Category Range
(Applicable to all offenders)
1 year – 3 years’ custody
Low level community order – 51 weeks’ custody
Band A fine – High level community order

Do I require legal representation for ABH?

Actual Bodily Harm is a serious criminal offence that can result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years along with a criminal record which may cause difficulties with your current or future employment. A person convicted of this offence is at high risk of receiving a prison sentence therefore, a person charged with this offence should always seek out expert legal representation as soon as possible.

What our solicitors check for in ABH Cases

  • Identifying weaknesses within the prosecution case;
  • Establishing whether the prosecution can place our client at the scene during the alleged offence
  • Determining whether self defence is applicable
  • Evaluating the strength of the prosecution evidence
  • Assessing the credibility of prosecution witnesses
  • Identifying potential defence witnesses

Do you require a solicitor for Section 47 ABH?

If you have just read our quick guide to Section 47 ABH Actual Bodily Harm then you should have an idea by now whether you require legal representation for this offence. If you feel you do require legal advice and representation please not hesitate to contact us by calling 0345 222 9955 or by filling out our contact form.

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Midsummer Boulevard
Milton Keynes, MK9 1BP

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