Offences against the Person Act 1828
|Long title||An Act for consolidating and amending the Statutes in England relative to Offences against the Person.|
|Chapter||9 Geo.4 c.31|
|Territorial extent||England and Wales|
|Royal Assent||27 June 1828|
|Commencement||1 July 1828|
|Repeal date||1 November 1861|
|Repealing legislation||Criminal Statutes Repeal Act 1861 (24 & 25 Vict. c.95), s.1 & Sch.|
The Offences against the Person Act 1828 (9 Geo.4 c.31) (also known as Lord Lansdowne's Act) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It consolidated provisions related to offences against the person (an expression which, in particular, includes offences of violence) from a number of earlier statutes into a single Act. It was one of a number of criminal law consolidation Acts known as Peel's Acts passed with the object of simplifying the law. Among the laws it replaced was clause XXVI of the Magna Carta, the first time any part of the Magna Carta was repealed. It also abolished the crime of petty treason.
It only applied to England and Wales (then described as England). A similar statute was passed for Ireland the following year (10 Geo.4 c.34).
A number of its provisions were repealed and replaced by the Offences against the Person Act 1837. The death penalty for shooting, stabbing, cutting or wounding with intent (s.12) and for post-quickening abortions (s.13) under this Act was abolished by repeal of those sections by section 1 of that Act (replaced by ss.4 and 6 of that Act respectively).
The death penalty for rape (s.16) and carnal knowledge of a girl under ten (s.17) was abolished by amendment of those sections by section 3 of the Substitution of Punishments of Death Act 1841.
Section 18 made provision in relation to proof of carnal knowledge.
The Act was wholly replaced by the Offences against the Person Act 1861.
Under the Offences Against the Person Act of 1828 (9 Geo. IV, C. 31), several acts pertained to the crime of rape. The penalty for being convicted of rape was still death, and remained that way until 1841. The Act also made it a felony punishable by death to carnally know a girl under the age of ten. Carnally knowing a girl over the age of ten and under the age of twelve was a misdemeanor punishable with imprisonment with the option of hard labor for a term to be determined by the court. The Act also changed the definition of carnal knowledge; before the 1828 statute, victims of rape had to prove that the assailant ejaculated. According to Anna Clark, the use of ejaculation was considered by medical experts who used it as a sign of rape that they could codify and use as actually physical evidence, thus reducing the need for a victim’s testimony. Clark also contends that another reason for requiring proof of ejaculation allowed judges and magistrates to ask victims humiliating and explicit questions. By changing the definition of carnal knowledge from ejaculation to proof of penetration, the 1828 act made it a little easier for victims to prosecute their rapists. According the records from the proceedings from the Old Bailey from April 1828 to 1841 there were 63 cases of rape tried at the Old Bailey. Of those 63 cases 16 were found guilty and 12 rapists were sentenced to death. Three had their sentenced reduced to imprisonment, and one had his judgment respited altogether.
- The Offences against the Person Act 1828, section 1
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