Offence against the person

In UK criminal law, the term "offence against the person" usually refers to a crime which is committed by direct physical harm or force being applied to another person.

They are usually analysed by division into the following categories:

  • Fatal offences
  • Sexual offences
  • Non-fatal non-sexual offences

They can be further analysed by division into:

  • Assaults
  • Injuries

And it is then possible to consider degrees and aggravations, and distinguish between intentional actions (e.g., assault) and criminal negligence (e.g., criminal endangerment).

Offences against the person are usually taken to comprise:

The crimes are usually grouped together in common law countries as a legacy of the Offences against the Person Act 1861.

Although most sexual offences will also be offences against the person,[3] for various reasons (including sentencing and registration of offenders) sexual crimes are usually categorised separately. Similarly, although many homicides also involve an offence against the person, they are usually categorised under the more serious category.

United Kingdom

England and Wales

Fatal offences

In section 2(2) of the Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996, "fatal offence" means:

Non-fatal non-sexual offences

For offences of aggravated assault, see Assault#England and Wales

  • Administering poison, so as to endanger life, contrary to section 23 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861[7]
  • Administering poison, contrary to section 24 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861[7]
  • Unlawful wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm, contrary to section 20 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861
  • Wounding or causing grievous bodily harm with intent, contrary to section 18 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861

Visiting Forces Act 1952

The expression "offence against the person" is used as a term of art in section 3 of the Visiting Forces Act 1952 (15 & 16 Geo.6 & 1 Eliz.2 c.67) and is defined for that purpose by paragraphs 1 (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) and 2 (Scotland) of the Schedule to that Act.

England and Wales and Northern Ireland

In the application of section 3 of the 1952 Act to England and Wales and Northern Ireland it means any of the following offences:

It formerly included in particular:


In the application of section 3 of the 1952 Act to Scotland, the expression "offence against the person" means any of the following offences:

  • murder, culpable homicide, rape, torture, robbery, assault, incest, sodomy, lewd, indecent and libidinous practices, procuring abortion, abduction, cruel and unnatural treatment of persons, threats to murder or to injure persons
  • any offence not falling within the last bullet point, being an offence punishable under any of the following enactments:
  • an offence of making such a threat as is mentioned in subsection (3)(a) of section 1 of the Internationally Protected Persons Act 1978 and the following offence against a protected person within the meaning of that section, namely, an offence under section 2 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883 of causing an explosion likely to endanger life
  • an offence under section 2 of the Nuclear Material (Offences) Act 1983, where the circumstances are that either, in the case of a contravention of subsection (2), the act falling within paragraph (a) or (b) of that subsection, had it been done, would have constituted an offence falling within sub-paragraph (a) or (b) of this paragraph, or, in the case of a contravention of subsection (3) or (4), the act threatened, had it been done, would have constituted such an offence
  • an offence of making such a threat as is mentioned in section 3 of the United Nations Personnel Act 1997 and an offence of causing an explosion likely to endanger life, committed against a UN worker (within the meaning of that Act), under section 2 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883

See also

Offences Against the Person Act


  1. ^ Often referred to as administration of a noxious substance in legal parlance.
  2. ^ Some legal systems have two separate crimes: occasioning grievous bodily harm, and intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm.
  3. ^ For example, it would be legally impossible to rape another person without also committing a battery against them
  4. ^ "Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  5. ^ The Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996, section 2(3)(b) (as substituted by section 177(1) of and paragraph 60(2) of Schedule 21 to, the Coroners and Justice Act 2009). Commencement: 1 February 2010. SI 2010/145, art. 2(2) & Sch. paras. 18(a) & 25(a).
  6. ^ The Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996, section 2(3)(c) (as inserted by section 58(1) of, and paragraph 33 of Schedule 10 to, the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004). Commencement: 21 March 2005. SI 2005/579, arts. 2(b) and (c).
  7. ^ a b This expression is used by Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice, 1999, para 19-224, in a specimen count, in the statement of the offence. The particulars of the offence in the specimen count actually charge administration of "a poison or other destructive or noxious thing".
  8. ^ "The reference to an offence of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring suicide or an attempt to commit suicide is prospectively replaced by a reference to an offence under section 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 or section 13(1) of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 (encouraging or assisting suicide)". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003". 27 May 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  10. ^ a b c "Sexual Offences Act 2003". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  11. ^ "The Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008". 24 July 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Sexual Offences Act 2003". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  13. ^ a b "The Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008". 24 July 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2015.

External links

  • "Bronitt" (PDF). Retrieved 16 October 2008. A textbook on offences against the person.
1828 in the United Kingdom

Events from the year 1828 in the United Kingdom.

1861 in the United Kingdom

Events from the year 1861 in the United Kingdom.


Arson is the crime of willfully and maliciously setting fire to or charring property. Though the act typically involves buildings, the term arson can also refer to the intentional burning of other things, such as motor vehicles, watercraft, or forests. The crime is typically classified as a felony, with instances involving a greater degree of risk to human life or property carrying a stricter penalty. A common motive for arson is to commit insurance fraud. In such cases, a person destroys their own property by burning it and then lies about the cause in order to collect against their insurance policy.A person who commits arson is called an 'arsonist'. Arsonists normally use an accelerant (such as gasoline or kerosene) to ignite, propel and directionalize fires, and the detection and identification of ignitable liquid residues (ILRs) is an important part of fire investigations. Pyromania is an impulse control disorder characterized by the pathological setting of fires. Most acts of arson are not committed by pyromaniacs.

Assault with intent to resist arrest

Assault with intent to resist arrest is a statutory offence of aggravated assault in England and Wales and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Attempted murder

Attempted murder is a crime of attempt in various jurisdictions.


In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term "crime" does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition, though statutory definitions have been provided for certain purposes. The most popular view is that crime is a category created by law; in other words, something is a crime if declared as such by the relevant and applicable law. One proposed definition is that a crime or offence (or criminal offence) is an act harmful not only to some individual but also to a community, society, or the state ("a public wrong"). Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law.The notion that acts such as murder, rape, and theft are to be prohibited exists worldwide. What precisely is a criminal offence is defined by criminal law of each country. While many have a catalogue of crimes called the criminal code, in some common law countries no such comprehensive statute exists.

The state (government) has the power to severely restrict one's liberty for committing a crime. In modern societies, there are procedures to which investigations and trials must adhere. If found guilty, an offender may be sentenced to a form of reparation such as a community sentence, or, depending on the nature of their offence, to undergo imprisonment, life imprisonment or, in some jurisdictions, execution.

Usually, to be classified as a crime, the "act of doing something criminal" (actus reus) must – with certain exceptions – be accompanied by the "intention to do something criminal" (mens rea).While every crime violates the law, not every violation of the law counts as a crime. Breaches of private law (torts and breaches of contract) are not automatically punished by the state, but can be enforced through civil procedure.

Criminal negligence

In criminal law, criminal negligence is a surrogate mens rea (Latin for "guilty mind") required to constitute a conventional as opposed to strict liability offense. It is not, strictly speaking, a mens rea because it refers to an objective standard of behaviour expected of the defendant and does not refer to their mental state.

Gross misdemeanor

In United States law, a gross misdemeanor is a crime which is more serious than a regular misdemeanor, but is still classified as a minor crime, as opposed to serious crimes. Such crimes may include petty theft, simple assault or driving under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs. Typically, the maximum sentence is one year in county jail and/or $5,000 in fines.

Homicide in English law

English law contains homicide offences – those acts involving the death of another person. For a crime to be considered homicide, it must take place after the victim's legally recognised birth, and before their legal death. There is also the usually uncontroversial requirement that the victim be under the "Queen's peace". The death must be causally linked to the actions of the defendant. Since the abolition of the year and a day rule, there is no maximum time period between any act being committed and the victim's death, so long as the former caused the latter.

There are two general types of homicide, murder and manslaughter. Murder requires an intention to kill or an intention to commit grievous bodily harm. If this intention is present but there are certain types of mitigating factors – loss of control, diminished responsibility, or pursuance of a suicide pact – then this is voluntary manslaughter. There are two types of involuntary manslaughter. Firstly, it may be "constructive" or "unlawful act" manslaugher, where a lesser but inherently criminal and dangerous act has caused the death. Alternatively, manslaughter may be caused by gross negligence, where the defendant has broken a duty of care over the victim, where that breach has led to the death, and is sufficiently gross as to warrant criminalisation.

Malfeasance in office

Malfeasance in office, or official misconduct, is

the commission of an unlawful act, done in an official capacity, which affects the performance of official duties. Malfeasance in office is often grounds for a just cause removal of an elected official by statute or recall election.An exact definition of malfeasance (or misfeasance (British)) in office is difficult: many highly regarded secondary sources (such as books and commentaries) compete over its established elements based on reported cases. This confusion has arisen from the courts where no single consensus definition has arisen from the relatively few reported appeal-level cases involving malfeasance in office.


Manslaughter is a common law legal term for homicide considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is sometimes said to have first been made by the ancient Athenian lawmaker Draco in the 7th century BC.The definition of manslaughter differs among legal jurisdictions.

Mayhem (crime)

Mayhem is a common law criminal offense consisting of the intentional maiming of another person.

Under the law of England and Wales and other common law jurisdictions, it originally consisted of the intentional and wanton removal of a body part that would handicap a person's ability to defend themself in combat. Under the strict common law definition, initially this required damage to an eye or a limb, while cutting off an ear or a nose was deemed not sufficiently disabling. Later the meaning of the crime expanded to encompass any mutilation, disfigurement, or crippling act done using any instrument.


A misdemeanor (American English, spelled misdemeanour in British English) is any "lesser" criminal act in some common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions (also known as minor, petty, or summary offences) and regulatory offences. Many misdemeanors are punished with monetary fines.

Negligent homicide

Negligent homicide is a criminal charge brought against a person who, through criminal negligence, allows another person to die.Examples include the crash of Aeroperu Flight 603 near Lima, Peru. The accident was caused by a piece of duct tape that was left over the static ports (on the bottom side of the fuselage) after cleaning the aircraft, which led to the crash. An employee had left the tape on and was charged with negligent homicide. Other times, an intentional killing may be negotiated down to the lesser charge as a compromised resolution of a murder case, as in the case of former UFC fighter Gerald Strebendt's intentional shooting of an unarmed man after a traffic altercation.

Principal (criminal law)

Under criminal law, a principal is any actor who is primarily responsible for a criminal offense. Such an actor is distinguished from others who may also be subject to criminal liability as accomplices, accessories or conspirators.

Property damage

Property damage (or, in England and Wales, criminal damage) is damage to or the destruction of public or private property, caused either by a person who is not its owner or by natural phenomena. Property damage caused by people is generally categorized by its cause: neglect (including oversight and human error), and intentional damage. Intentional property damage is often, but not always, malicious. Property damage caused by natural phenomena may be legally attributed to a person if that person's neglect allowed for the damage to occur.

Slashing (crime)

Slashing is a crime intended to cause bodily harm to a victim. A slashing is typically performed with a knife or other type of bladed or sharp object.


Solicitation is the act of offering, or attempting to purchase, goods or services. Legal status may be specific to the time or place where it occurs. The crime of "solicitation to commit a crime" occurs when a person encourages, "solicits, requests, commands, importunes or otherwise attempts to cause" another person to attempt or commit a crime, with the purpose of thereby facilitating the attempt or commission of that crime.

Visiting Forces Act 1952

The Visiting Forces Act 1952 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Section 3 provides immunity against prosecution for certain offences in the courts of United Kingdom by members of visiting forces and, by virtue of the 1964 Act, international headquarters. See offence against the person and offence against property for the meaning of those terms.

The Act is extended by section 1(2) of, and the Schedule to the International Headquarters and Defence Organisations Act 1964.

Classes of crimes
Elements of crimes
Inchoate offences
Offences against the person
Sexual offences
Public order offences
Offences against property
Forgery, personation and cheating
Offences against justice
Other common law areas


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