Summary of offences

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This section summarises some of the more significant common-law and statutory offences. For the meanings of abbreviations, see the end of this section.

Source Summary Actus reus Mens Rea Max penalty
common law Assault Causation of the expectation of violence Intention or ('Cunningham') recklessness to the assault 6 months
common law Battery Any application of force without consent Intention or ('Cunningham') recklessness to the use of force 6 months

common law Buggery Anal intercourse between people under 18, or more than two males of any age (NB: since rape now includes male victims, this offence is not required for such cases). Intention to the act ???

Criminal Damage Act (1971) CDA (1971) s.1(1) Criminal damage Unlawfully damaging propery belonging to another except by fire Intention or recklessness ('Caldwell') to the damage plus intention or recklessness ('Caldwell') to the ownership 10 years

Criminal Damage Act (1971) CDA (1971) s.1(2) Dangerous criminal damage Damaging property in such a way as to endanger life Intention or recklessness ('Caldwell') to the damage, plus intention or recklessness ('Caldwell') to the danger, and that there is a causal link life

Criminal Damage Act (1971) CDA (1971) s.1(3) Arson Unlawfully damaging property by fire Intention or recklessness ('Caldwell' ?) to the damage; note no need to prove intention or recklessness to the danger of fire life

Computer Misuse Act (1990) CMA (1990) s.1 Gaining unauthorized access to data Using a computer to do anything Intention to get access to data, plus knowledge that the access is unauthorized ???

Computer Misuse Act (1990) CMA (1990) s.2 Gaining unauthorized access to data with

intent to commit a crime

Using a computer to do anything Intention to get access to data, plus knowledge that the access is unauthorized, plus intention to commit a serious arrestable offence (e.g., theft) ???

Computer Misuse Act (1990) CMA (1990) s.3 Unauthorized modification of computer material Causing an authorized modification of the contents of a computer Intention to the act, plus intention to impair operation or hinder reliability of software or data, plus knowledge that the act was unauthorized ???

Forgery and Counterfeiting Act (1981) FCA (1981) Forgery Use of a false instrument (e.g., forged cheque) in an attempt to induce another to act to his prejudice Intention to the act ???

Homicide Act (1957) HA (1957) Murder Unlawful causation of death Intention to cause death or GBH life (minimum)

Homicide Act (1957) HA (1957) Constructive manslaughter Unlawful causation of death while perpetrating another offence which is itself dangerous Intention to commit the other offence life

Homicide Act (1957) HA (1957) Manslaughter by gross negligence Unlawful causation of death Breach of the duty of care, to an extent deserving a criminal conviction life

Homicide Act (1957) HA (1957) Voluntary manslaughter Unlawful causation of death Intention to cause death or GBH, in provocation, suicide pact, or diminished responsibility life

Offences Against the Person Act (1861) OAPA (1861) s.18 Wounding with intent Causation of the GBH or wound (no assault necesary) Intention or ('Cunningham') recklessness to do GBH; intention to resist arrest life

Offences Against the Person Act (1861) OAPA (1861) s.20 Malicious wounding; malicious GBH Causation of the GBH or wound (no assault necesary) Intention or ('Cunningham') recklessness to some harm; not necessarily to the GBH itself 5 years

Offences Against the Person Act (1861) OAPA (1861) s.23 Malicious administration of poison occasioning GBH Causation of the GBH Intention or ('Cunningham') recklessness to do GBH 10 years

Offences Against the Person Act (1861) OAPA (1861) s.24 Malicious administration of poison with intent to harm Administration of poison or noxious agent Intention to harm; need not succeed 5 years

Offences Against the Person Act (1861) OAPA (1861) s.38 Assault with intent to resist arrest Assault and/or battery Intention to resist arrest 2 years

Offences Against the Person Act (1861) OAPA (1861) s.47 Assault occasioning actual bodily harm Commission of assault and/or battery, causation of the ABH Intention or ('Cunningham') recklessness to the assault and/or battery; not necessarily to the ABH itself 5 years

Police Act (1994) PA (1996) s.89(1) Assault of a constable in execution of duty Commission of assault and/or battery Intention or ('Cunningham') recklessness to the assault and/or battery 6 months

Police Act (1964) PA (1964) s.51(3) Resisting or obstructing a constable in execution of duty Many and various; need not involve assault or battery Intention to resist or obstruct 1 month

Protection from Harrassment Act (1997) PHA (1997) s.1 Pursuing a course of conduct that assounts to harrassment Many and various Knowledge (of a reasonable person) that the conduct amounts to harrassment 6 months

Protection from Harrassment Act (1997) PHA (1997) s.4 Putting a person in fear of violence Causation of a fear that violence will (not 'might') be used Knowledge (of a reasonable person) that the conduct amounts to harrassment 5 years

Road Traffic Act (1988) RTA (1988) s.1 Killing by dangerous driving Causation of death by driving in careless or incompetent manner None; this is a Strict liability offence ???

Theft Act (1968) TA (1968) s.1 Theft Appropriation of property belonging to another Intention to permanently deprive plus dishonesty 7 years

Theft Act (1968) TA (1968) s.8 Assault with attempt to rob Commission of assault and/or battery Intention to steal plus intention to use force; need not succeed Life

Theft Act (1968) TA (1968) s.8 Robbery Theft assisted by assault and/or battery Intention to steal plus intention to use force Life

Theft Act (1968) TA (1968) s.9(1)a Burglary (9(1)a) Entering a building (or part of a building) as a trespasser Intention or recklessness to trespass, plus intention to steal, rape or damage, whether or not the intention was effected 14 years if a dwelling, 10 years otherwise

Theft Act (1968) TA (1968) s.9(1)b Burglary (9(1)b) Entering a building (or part of a building) as a trespasser and then committing theft, or rape, or causing damage Intention or recklessness to trespass plus Mens Rea of the other offence 14 years if a dwelling, 10 years otherwise

Theft Act (1968) TA (1968) s.12 Taking a conveyance Unlawfully taking a way a vehicle belonging to another, without consent Intention to cause the vehicle to move, plus intention or recklessness as to consent. Note that there is no need to show intention to permanently deprive, as there is in most theft offences ???

Theft Act (1968) TA (1968) s.15 Obtaining property by deception Appropriation of property belonging to another by deception in word or conduct Intention to permanently deprive plus dishonesty plus intention or recklessness as to the deceit ???

Theft Act (1968) TA (1968) s.16(2) Obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception Obtaining a loan by overdraft, or an insurance policy, or annuity, or improvement in terms of any of the above Dishonesty plus intention or recklessness as to the deceit ???

Theft Act (1968) TA (1968) s.21 Blackmail Making unwarranted demands with menaces, that might lead to loss to the victim or gain to the perpetrator, whether or not the victim accedes Intention to make the demands using menaces plus intention to make gain or cause loss 14 years

Theft Act (1968) TA (1968) s.22 Handling stolen goods Receiving, storing, or disposing of stolen goods (there are 18 specific cases in the act!) Dishonesty, plus belief that the goods were stolen 14 years

Theft Act (1968) TA (1978) s.1 Obtaining services by deception Obtaining a service of some benefit by deception in word or conduct (including a loan or mortgage) Dishonesty plus intention or recklessness as to the deceit ???

Theft Act (1968) TA (1978) s.2 Evasion of liability by deception Avoidance or delay in compliance with a financial liability by deceiption in word or conduct Dishonesty plus intention or recklessness as to the deceit ???

Theft Act (1968) TA (1978) s.3 Making off without payment Avoiding payment for goods or services in situations where on-the-spot payment is conventional (e.g., self-service garages) Intention to avoid payment plus dishonesty plus knowledge that payment was expected ???

Sexual Offences Act (1956) SOA (1956) s.1; Sexual Offences (Ammendment) Act (1976) SOAA (1976); Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994) CJPOA (1994) Rape Specifically: penetration of the vagina or anus by the penis in the absence of consent. Victim may be male or female. Other acts that are not this specific may consititute, e.g., indecent assault, but not rape Intention to have sexual intercourse; knowledge that the other party does not consent (not 'Cunningham' recklessness). Life

Sexual Offences Act (1956) SOA (1956) s.5, 6 Unlawful sexual intercourse Intercourse with a female under 16 years of age; consent is no defence Probably none; this is mostly a Strict liability offence. However, it is a defence for a man under 24 to claim that he was mistaken as to age. 2 years if under 16; life if under 13.

Sexual Offences Act (1956) SOA (1956) s.5, 6 Incest Intercourse between a man and his daughter, granddaughter, sister, or mother; consent is no defence Knowledge of the relationship. A girl under 16 is exempt from liability. 7 years if under 16; life if under 13 (rarely charged where both adults).

Sexual Offences Act (1956) SOA (1956) s.14, 15 Indecent assault As for common law assault and/or battery, in 'indecent' circumstatnces. No physical contact need take place, but there must at least be apprehension of immediate violence Intention or ('Cunningham') recklessness to the assault and/or battery 10 years

Notes: CDA = Criminal Damage Act; CMA = Computer Misuse Act; CJPOA = Criminal Justice and Public Order Act; FCA = Forgery and Counterfeiting Act; HA = Homicide Act; OPAP = Offences Against the Person Act; PA = Police Act; PHA = Protection from Harrassment Act; SOAA = Sexual Offences (Ammendment) Act; SOA = Sexual Offences Act; RTA = Road Traffic Act TA = Theft Act;

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