Offence against the person

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In criminal law, an 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[edit]

England and Wales[edit]

Fatal offences[edit]

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

Sexual offences[edit]

Non-fatal non-sexual offences[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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:

See also[edit]

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. ^ The Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996, section 2(3)(a)
  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) by which is not yet in force
  9. ^ Substited by
  10. ^ Inserted by
  11. ^ Inserted by paragraph 10(2)(c) of Schedule 1 to the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008
  12. ^ and
  13. ^ inserted by, repealed by
  14. ^ repealed by
  15. ^ repealed by
  16. ^ Substituted by

External links[edit]

  • "Bronitt". Retrieved 2008-10-16.  A textbook on offences against the person.