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Birmingham Office

1 Victoria Square
West Midlands
B1 1BD

330 High Holborn Kang and Co Solicitors London

London Office

330 High Holborn

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Milton Keynes Office

The Pinnacle
Midsummer Boulevard
Milton Keynes

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ABH First Offence – Will I go to Jail?

by | Feb 16, 2024 | Articles, Crime

Facing criminal charges can be a daunting experience, particularly if it’s your first encounter with the legal system. If you’re charged with actual bodily harm (ABH) in the UK, you may be wondering about the potential consequences, including the possibility of imprisonment. In this criminal law article, we shall explore the legal landscape surrounding ABH offences in the UK, including the applicable laws, potential defences, and sentencing guidelines.

Understanding Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) in UK Law

Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) is a criminal offence under Section 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. It is defined as an injury that interferes with the victim’s health or comfort, but does not amount to grievous bodily harm (GBH). ABH can encompass a wide range of injuries, from cuts and bruises to fractures and internal injuries, depending on the circumstances of the case.


Legal Defences for ABH

If you’re facing charges of ABH, there are several legal defences that may apply in your case:


You may argue that you acted in self-defence to protect yourself or another person from imminent harm. However, the force used must be proportionate to the threat faced.


If the harm caused was unintentional and occurred as a result of an accident, you may have a defence against the charges.


In some cases, the victim may have consented to the actions that resulted in the harm. However, this defence is subject to certain limitations and may not apply in all situations.

Lack of Intent:

If you did not intend to cause harm to the victim, you may be able to argue that you are not guilty of ABH.

It’s important to consult with a qualified criminal defence solicitor to determine the most appropriate defence strategy for your case.


Consequences of a Conviction

If you are convicted of ABH in the UK, the potential consequences can vary depending on the severity of the offence and other mitigating factors. In general, however, ABH is considered a serious criminal offence and can result in a range of penalties, including:

Prison Sentence:

 A conviction for ABH can lead to a prison sentence, particularly if the offence is deemed to be more serious or if you have previous convictions. The length of the sentence will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the sentencing guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council.

Community Service:

In some cases, the court may impose a community service order as an alternative to a prison sentence. This may involve performing unpaid work in the community for a specified period of time.


The court may also impose a fine as part of the sentence for ABH. The amount of the fine will depend on various factors, including the severity of the offence and your financial circumstances.


In addition to any other penalties, you may be ordered to pay compensation to the victim to cover any financial losses or expenses incurred as a result of the injury.


Sentencing Guidelines for ABH

The Sentencing Council provides guidelines to assist courts in determining appropriate sentences for criminal offences, including ABH. These guidelines take into account factors such as the level of harm caused, the degree of culpability, and any aggravating or mitigating factors present in the case.

For example, the Sentencing Council’s definitive guideline for assault offences categorises ABH into three levels of harm: Category 1 (lesser harm), Category 2 (serious harm), and Category 3 (most serious harm). The appropriate sentence will depend on which category the offence falls into, as well as any other relevant factors.

ABH actual bodily harm sentencing guidelines

To conclude, facing charges of ABH in the UK can have serious consequences, including the possibility of imprisonment. However, the outcome of your case will depend on a variety of factors, including the specific circumstances of the offence and the strength of your defence. It’s essential to seek legal advice from a specialist criminal defence law firm who can help you understand your rights and options and advocate on your behalf in court.

Do you require legal advice &/or representation?

If you are facing a criminal offence prosecution and require expert legal representation at Court, call our lawyers on 0330 818 9843 or complete our Contact Form.

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