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Non Fatal Offences Notes

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This is an extract of our Non Fatal Offences document, which we sell as part of our Criminal Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Oxford students.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Criminal Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Non-Fatal Ofences Against the Person

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Concerned with the right to bodily integrity - common law and Art 8 protection. Recent cases shows the value we put on this: o Thomas - touching the bottom of a girl's skirt was a battery. o St George's NHS Trust v S - performing a C-section on a woman who didn't want it, despite being in her best interest, invaded her bodily integrity and was unlawful.

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The relationship between assault and battery is an interesting one since we commonly refer to the offence of battery as an assault. Note that after the pedantry of DPP v Little we should treat them clearly as separate.

Assault:

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AR: D causes V to apprehend immediate and unlawful personal violence.

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MR: D intended V to apprehend such force, or was reckless as to whether it would be apprehended (Cunningham recklessness).

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Assault is a common law offence. Some people claim (supported in Little) that it is a statutory offence because it is referenced in s.39 Criminal Justice Act 1988, but it provides no definition - it's common law.

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'Apprehend' - in a way this is not strictly true. The fact that V objects is sufficient, as in St George's Trust. 'Immediate' - Steyn in Ireland said the apprehension of a possibility would suffice, but this should not be stretched too fair (which he seems to acknowledge at one point). 'Unlawful' - note that the some application of force is lawful when defensive or preventative. Consent it also important. 'Violence' - can really be any sort of touching to which V objects.

Conduct element:

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Requires an act, not an omission (hence the strange justification in Fagan v MPC). Where's D's presence is lawful but merely causing V discomfort, there is no offence.

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Non-physical acts: o In Ireland, where D made silent phone calls to three women, it was found that words can constitute an assault - it doesn't matter how the fear of immediate harm is created. The point was that V did not know where D was when making the calls and could rightly apprehend

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imminent violence. This establishes the rule that words can cause assault.
? But at the same time words can negate the threat of an assault.

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Turberville v Savage - D drew his sword and said 'if it were not assize-time, I would not take such language'. The words negated the reasonableness of the fear of violence and so there was no assault. o Constanza - written threats also work. Conditional threats: o Can be assault. It was suggested in Blake that they cannot, which relied on Turberville v Savage as a case in point - it is important to note the distinction between a conditional threat and words that negate a threat. Dicta in Read v Coker say they can be.

Battery

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AR: infliction of violence on V by D. Interpreted very widely to include spitting on someone (Smith), cutting someone's hair off without authority (DPP v Smith) and touching someone's clothes (Day). o The scope is wide - e.g. hot potato grenade would still result in liability for the thrower (Scott v Shepherd). Booby traps (similar to DPP v K) and things thrown also count.
? The prosecution in Ireland argued battery but that was rejected decisively.
? Debate over how direct the touching has to be. The answer is, arguably, not very. o Usually has to be an act, but the normal rule for an omission applies. If D creates a dangerous situation, he will be liable for failing to prevent damage e.g. man with syringe in his pocket in Santana-Bermudez who allowed a police officer to search him. o It is accepted that it requires hostility, but this is misleading and it simply means that V objects to the touching.

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MR: intent to batter or recklessness as to whether battery would be committed. Assault occasioning ABH - s.47 OAPA

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AR: assault (or battery) that results in bodily harm to V. Most commonly this offence will be charged where a battery causes the requisite degree of bodily harm. o ABH = "any hurt or injury calculated to interfere with the health or comfort of V" (Donovan). Includes bruises, abrasions, bloody noses and superficial cuts. Note that if skin is pierced, this is wounding. o Non-physical harm can fall into ABH (Chan Fook, Ireland).

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