Criminal Law: Offenses against the Person
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In this case one has to analyze the situations separately. The first to commit an offence was Nigel. What he did was to assault Angela. Angela did not however respond immediately. She went home and planned revenge against Nigel, one that caused bodily harm. Therefore Angela assaulted Nigel which led to bodily harm.
To establish whether the two offences have been committed, one has to look at the elements that constitute them. For assault to there must be an act that intentionally or recklessly causes another to apprehend immediate unlawful violence. This is the actus reus. Similarly, there should be mens rea which is actually the intention to act. The act of pulling Angela’s hair hard that caused her great pain constitutes an offence of assault by Nigel. Angela on the other hand slaps Nigel cutting his skin in several places with her finger nails something that required stitches. Just like Nigel, Angela is guilty of assault. However, the fact that she cut him and it is not a trivial cut since they are several and they require stitches, she is guilty of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, contrary to Section 47 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861. It is an offence that is committed when a person assaults another causing Actual Bodily Harm in the process.
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This was decided in the case of R v Donovan 25 Cr. App. Rep. 1, CCA, where it was stated that body harm is one that interferes with the victim’s comfort or health and that it need not be permanent but on the other side not trivial.
Peter is liable of intentional and reckless transmission of a Sexually Transmitted Infection. There are three elements to determine and they are; the victim contracts an infection from the accused, the accused has the knowledge that he has the infection and that the accused intentionally acted with some degree of recklessness. All the three elements have been satisfied in this case.
The intention is already there in Peter’s mind. The appropriate crime in this case is assault and causing grievous bodily harm under Section 20 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861. In cases where the transmission is person to person through sexual infection that will have serious and life-threatening results for the person infected, then this amounts to grievous bodily harm. This was decided in the case of R v Golding (2014) EWCA Crim 889.
All the circumstances in the case of Peter fit this bill in that Milly contracts the syphilis from Peter, Peter knew that he had syphilis and intentionally failed to tell Millie before they had sex. This is where the recklessness arises from. For a criminal offence to be committed mens rea and actus reus must be present. The criminality in this offence lies in the mens rea. This lies in the intention by Peter. Since he was in his right state of mind Peter must have been fully aware of what he was doing. His intention to have sex with Milly and failure to disclose his status was a sober decision. He should therefore be charged with a crime of causing grievous bodily harm and assault.
- Allen Michael: Criminal Law, (11 edt, OUP Oxford 2011)
- Herring Jonathan: Criminal Law: The Basics (Routledge 2009)
- Matthew Weait: Intimacy and Responsibility: The Criminalization of HIV Transmission, Abingdon, (Sage 2007).
Offered for reference purposes only.