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๐“๐‡๐„ ๐‚๐Ž๐๐’๐„๐๐”๐„๐๐‚๐„๐’ ๐Ž๐… ๐€๐‚๐“๐ˆ๐๐† ๐ˆ๐ ๐’๐„๐‹๐… ๐ƒ๐„๐…๐„๐๐‚๐„ (๐–๐Ž๐‘๐’๐„ ๐‚๐€๐’๐„ ๐’๐„๐๐€๐‘๐ˆ๐Ž)


As Instructors, we talk about the Psychological, physiological, and Emotional effects of an assault or confrontation as well as the physical aspects of acting in self-defence (If notโ€ฆwhy!).

Some time back I wrote an article in relation to courtroom survival which explained how important it was to have knowledge of not only the Law on Self Defence within your country but also the importance of what you should say and do when in court in order to explain your actions when acting in Self Defence, but, also what you should do after the assault has happened in terms of calling the police and writing a statement. Within that article I talked about how sometimes the victim can be sentenced, due to what they say in their statements or say in court and not just for their actions so, if you have not done so already, I would recommend giving that a read as it is very important subject that should be covered when studying Self Protection. This article is a follow-on from there should the shit hit the fan.

In this article I will explain the consequences of being found guilty of Assault, the different kinds of assault and what sentence each one can carry along with the consequences it can have on your Family, Socially and financially (not just for you but also what it can cost the government}.

This is not meant to put you off learning Self Protection but rather to give you the information needed that may help you determine whether or not you are either learning the right thing/system or have a competent enough instructor.

If you have followed my articles or heard me on various Podcasts you may remember me talking about the differences between Combatives and Self Defence. Not knowing the difference could get you into deep water and potentially stop you from walking away a free person as well as the victim.

So, you have just acted in self-defence, because someone attacked you but, unfortunately you are now being charged for assault, this is quite a complex area within criminal law and there are many categories that this offence can fall under.

Each and every case of Assault is different, and the outcome can depend on several factors, including:

๐Ÿ-๐“๐ก๐ž ๐ฉ๐š๐ซ๐ญ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ ๐ข๐ง๐ฏ๐จ๐ฅ๐ฏ๐ž๐,

๐Ÿ-๐“๐ก๐ž ๐ฅ๐จ๐œ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง,

๐Ÿ‘- ๐๐จ๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ข๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐ฆ๐จ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฅ๐š๐ฌ๐ญ๐ฅ๐ฒ

๐Ÿ’- ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฎ๐ง๐Ÿ๐จ๐ฅ๐

It is up to the police and a team of prosecutors to interpret the details and initially assess the severity of the case and what type of assault may have been committed. The level of injury caused is the main distinction in determining what level an offence may be charged at.

So now, let us look at the legal definition of assault (I can only talk about the UKโ€™s system and Law so you will have to look up the definitions regarding your country or states).

Inflicting intentional or reckless harm towards another individual is the general definition of assault. Assaults are typically referred to as offences against the person. Harm encompasses both physical and psychological harm, which includes causing someone to fear for their own safety.

As i explained earlier, there are different types of assault such as GBH, ABH and COMMON ASSAULT OR BATTERY, each one relates to a different severity, whereby differing degrees of injuries have been inflicted. These various degrees of assault will determine the potential consequences and punishment for someone accused or convicted.

๐ƒ๐„๐†๐‘๐„๐„๐’ ๐€๐๐ƒ ๐“๐˜๐๐„๐’ ๐Ž๐… ๐€๐’๐’๐€๐”๐‹๐“

So now we know that there are different categories within the charge of assault, let us look at each one in more detail in terms of what they mean and what sentences they could potentially carry.

๐†๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ฏ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฌ ๐๐จ๐๐ข๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐‡๐š๐ซ๐ฆ (๐†๐๐‡)

Inflicting grievous bodily harm to another person is the most serious form of assault. This offence of can be committed in two ways:

Firstly, It can be intentionally inflicted, which is typically where the accused person is alleged to have intended to cause grievous levels of injury. This carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Individuals convicted of a Section 18 offence of wounding with intent will often receive lengthy prison sentences, often with significant restrictions on their freedom when they are released.

Secondly, it is also possible to commit GBH recklessly. In this instance, while still serious, the case is treated differently. GBH committed recklessly is contrary to Section 20 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 (OAPA). A person convicted of this type of assault would be someone that did not intend to inflict a serious injury but did so, nonetheless.

GBH is the most serious because, in most cases, a victim of GBH is left with serious injuries, which can sometimes be life-changing. They could also be left with long-term injuries or scarring.

Severe injuries are deemed to cause serious detriment to a victimโ€™s health, whether:

  • Physically through wounding

  • Biologically through the transmission of disease

  • Psychologically if fear or paranoia are caused by the incident.

If violence is inflicted with a weapon or the equivalent of a weapon, then the act is likely to be classified as inflicting grievous bodily harm intentionally (section 18).

In terms of the Law Weapon equivalents are objects, items or parts of the body that are not themselves weapons but are deemed so when used intentionally, such as:

  • The use of feet (kicking or stomping whilst wearing shoes), Headbutting etc.

  • The use of acid as a weapon and lastly,

  • The use of an animal as a weapon (means of using a dog to attack someone and not actually throwing an animal, LOL although I wouldnโ€™t be at all surprised if that has not happened already).

It is possible to inflict GBH with one strike or punch, however, the more sustained, ferocious, or prolonged the incident, the more likely it is to be viewed that the consequences were intended. Weapon usage can also change the dynamics of a case. For example, if an accused person were to strike a victim in the face once with a punch which resulted in a fractured eye socket, it could be viewed that the serious injury was not intended. On the other hand, if a knuckle duster were used, the fracturing of the eye socket would be more likely to be considered intentional.

Generally speaking, sentences for GBH are the most severe of all assault charges. As the most serious form of assault, the consequences reflect this. Depending on the factors of the case and the level of harm caused, starting points for sentencing can range from 3 to 16 years imprisonment. Whether the offence of GBH was committed recklessly or intentionally is the primary factor in the court determining the appropriate sentencing range.

Along with other factors such as the level of injury, the court will consider a number of options and determine whether rehabilitative, non-custodial alternatives are suitable, compared to an immediate custodial term. If the facts of the case indicate a lower level of culpability, such as the use of a single blow, then the consequence could be as low as a community order.

๐€๐œ๐ญ๐ฎ๐š๐ฅ ๐๐จ๐๐ข๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐‡๐š๐ซ๐ฆ (๐€๐๐‡)

Where injuries are sustained through assault but do not cause serious injury, this may constitute the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH). Determining whether an injury should be deemed severe or not is often a case of a subjective review. This will usually be the discretion of the prosecutors or an investigating police officer, although legal guidelines and tests provide a basis for this assessment.

Injuries that interfere with the health or personal comfort of a complainant may constitute the infliction of โ€˜actualโ€™ harm through assault. Actual harm refers to the notable consequences caused by an assault, meaning physical and psychological injuries need only be of minimal detriment to health but must be proven.

Should an accused individual plead guilty or be found guilty through a court trial, a number of sentences could be issued by prosecutors.

ABH cases can be heard at either Magistrates Courts or Crown Courts as an either-way offence. Where the case is heard will depend on its severity and resulting consequences can range from community orders (if the individual is found to be of low risk) to up to 3 yearsโ€™ imprisonment in the most severe scenarios that are heard by the Crown Court.

๐‚๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐จ๐ง ๐€๐ฌ๐ฌ๐š๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ญ

Common assault or battery normally involves the unlawful touching of a person (where they have not โ€˜silentlyโ€™ consented, i.e. if jolted during a concert) but does not require there to have been any injury.

By the letter of the law, common assault or battery is occasioned where there is more than merely transient or trifling contact. It is not necessary for the police or prosecution to prove injury.

Normally, subject to some exceptions, the prosecution will choose not to prosecute a case in court if there are no injuries at all as it would not be in the interests of justice to do so. In general, most minor assaults which have caused minor injuries or passing discomfort or pain will be prosecuted as common assaults.

Common assault is the only โ€˜mainโ€™ assault charge that is summary-only, meaning it can only be heard at a magistratesโ€™ court, unlike ABH offences which can be heard at either the magistratesโ€™ court or the Crown Court.

Where ABH is dealt with in the magistratesโ€™ court it will often be sentenced in a similar way to common assault, with the main point of assessment being the circumstances, along with the aggravating and mitigating factors.

The maximum penalty for common assault is a 6-month prison sentence, with the minimum sentence being a nominal fine. This is usually around 50% of the individualโ€™s weekly income.

So now we have established the different types of assaults that you could potentially be found guilty of committing. Now let us look at the consequences you could face if found guilty of such an offence.

Now you have been charged with one of the above assault charges and have been imprisoned for it, letโ€™s now look at the other consequences you could be faced with.

๐“๐‡๐„ ๐…๐ˆ๐๐€๐๐‚๐ˆ๐€๐‹ ๐ˆ๐Œ๐๐‹๐ˆ๐‚๐€๐“๐ˆ๐Ž๐๐’ ๐Ž๐… ๐ˆ๐Œ๐๐‘๐ˆ๐’๐Ž๐๐Œ๐„๐๐“

As I explained at the beginning, imprisonment does not only affect you financially but also the government.

Now again I can only write about the UKโ€™s judicial system and so I would recommend researching your own country's system to see what effects it could have on you.

When magistrates and judges choose whether or not to imprison you, their decisions can have far-reaching social and financial consequences.

The financial costs imposed on the government are extremely large, and there may be dramatic social consequences, for your family, for the level of employment, for the level of crime and the fear of crime across the community, and, of course, for yourself.

While there is financial costs of imprisoning you, the social consequences of imprisonment are distinctive and may be more damaging. In particular, it is in the impact on family, above all the harmful effect it can have on children.

Let us look at what the costs of imprisonment could entail.

Consequences are not the only grounds on which magistrates and judges should make their decisions, but there are certain groups of prisoners for whom it is clear that there are plausible alternatives to prison, I will try to compare the consequences of imprisonment with the consequences of alternatives:

If you are given a short custodial sentence (say, up to 6 months, or up to 12 months) you could be given community penalties (such as probation orders, community service orders, or curfew orders). For the community penalties to be proportionate to the crimes committed, they could be of long duration, and with additional requirements such as residence in a probation hostel. Many people who are currently remanded in custody after their arrest and before they are tried and/or sentenced could be given bail, possibly with some condition attached, such as residence in a bail hostel or participation in a bail support scheme.

๐…๐ข๐ง๐š๐ง๐œ๐ข๐š๐ฅ ๐œ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ ๐†๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ง๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐๐จ๐๐ข๐ž๐ฌ

The financial cost to public bodies of keeping the number of people in prison at its current level is extremely large, something like 18 million every year.

The bulk of this is direct costs to the Prison Service, principally the costs of operating prison establishments, but also overheads and capital costs.

There are a number of other financial costs such as childcare by local authorities, post-release supervision by the probation service, and lost tax revenues.

There are also some financial benefits for public bodies arising from a reduction in the level of crime and reduced payments of State benefits. But, the direct cost to the Prison Service is so large that it dramatically outweighs the other financial costs of imprisonment and is highly likely to outweigh the financial benefits.

Remanding someone in custody may reduce the number of crimes committed, but the financial benefit is unlikely to outweigh the high costs to the Prison Service.

The cost to public bodies of a custodial sentence for a foreign national can be extremely high.

The average cost of remanding a prisoner in custody over a 12-month period is approximately ยฃ37,000

๐’๐จ๐œ๐ข๐š๐ฅ ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ž๐ช๐ฎ๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž๐ฌ

It is difficult to quantify many of the social consequences of imprisonment, and it is even more difficult, if not foolish, to place a monetary value on them.

For this reason, it is hard to compare these social consequences with the financial costs to public bodies.

They are an altogether different type of cost, they are human costs, rather than financial costs. Nevertheless, the scale of the social costs is clearly such that the financial costs only tell a fraction of the story.

๐‚๐ก๐ข๐ฅ๐๐ซ๐ž๐งโ€™๐ฌ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ฏ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐š๐ซ๐ซ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ

If you are a single parent and have dependent children living with you at the time you are imprisoned you may experience difficulties making arrangements for the care of your children or they may remain in the home and looked after by their other parent. Which can put a strain in that parent causing a strain on your relationship.

There is a large majority of dependent children who are looked after by relatives or friends while their parent/s are in prison, and in the large majority of cases this involves the children leaving home.

Siblings are quite often separated between different substitute carers.

Childcare may impose a significant financial burden on carers and can cause considerable disruption to their lives.

The difficulties experienced by substitute carers often result in children being moved from one carer and sometimes result in local authorities being asked to look after the children.

Dependent children may be taken into local authority care subsequent to their imprisonment, either when they first enter prison or during their sentence.

It may be that your children are looked after by foster parents or are placed in children's homes.

It can take time for you to regain care of your children after your release from prison, particularly if you are unable to obtain secure housing.

๐…๐š๐ฆ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐‹๐ข๐Ÿ๐ž

If you are a lone parent it could mean that your household would be broken up as a result of your imprisonment, children may be looked after elsewhere, and homes can often be lost.

In some cases, while the household may remain intact, it nevertheless comes under great stress.

It is not uncommon for relationships to break down under the strain of imprisonment due to the loss of income, difficulty with childcare, and, in some cases, informal care of the sick, handicapped, or elderly.

After release, you may face an initial period of considerable stress in which you have to rebuild your family lives, you may have to find new employment, new housing and even new possessions, you may have to rebuild damaged relationships, and you may face a struggle with local authorities to win back care of your children.

It may take time for you to become 'deinstitutionalised', and you may experience difficulties being reintegrated into your family.

All these difficulties are compounded by the financial difficulties faced by many people on release. Many prisoners leave prison more in debt than they were at the time of imprisonment, and the financial support available from the government to tide ex-prisoners through the first weeks after release is rarely sufficient.


It could mean losing your home while you are in prison and being forced to find new accommodation upon your release.

Sometimes these cases arise because of imprisonment for longer than 13 weeks which may lose your entitlement to any housing benefit and can often mean eviction because of non-payment of rent.

Some other cases may result from broken relationships.

The loss of your home can often result in the loss of your possessions. This means that if you are evicted while you are in prison, your possessions are typically thrown away. If you do lose your home it may mean that you have to move into temporary or insecure housing on release from prison, (Some people have nowhere else to go and leave prison homeless).

If you do not have children, you may unlikely be regarded as a priority case by local authorities and may not be rehoused. Even if you do have children, you may only be offered temporary accommodation by the local authority.

๐„๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฒ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐”๐ง๐ž๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฒ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ

If you had a job, it may mean becoming unemployed as a result of your imprisonment. You most likely will face difficulties in gaining employment on your release from prison. (There is strong evidence that employers prefer not to hire ex-prisoners).

If you have been given community penalties or been bailed, it may be that you have retained your job. In addition, if you have been given a Community Service Order (CSO) or a Combination Order you will have to carry out voluntary work for the benefit of the community.

๐Œ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐š๐ฅ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐๐ก๐ฒ๐ฌ๐ข๐œ๐š๐ฅ ๐‡๐ž๐š๐ฅ๐ญ๐ก

While prison is not a healthy environment for anybody, there is some evidence that it has a very damaging effect on many people.

There have been many reports of suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, self-harm, and depression while in prison. After release, it may mean further suffering from the disruption to family life that prison often causes, and from social stigma. Suffering may be damaging not only to you, but also to your whole family.

Prison may be a particularly inappropriate environment if you are already suffering from mental illness when you enter prison.

๐“๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฅ๐›๐ž๐ข๐ง๐  ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐‚๐ก๐ข๐ฅ๐๐ซ๐ž๐ง

All the factors discussed above may have a very harmful impact on the well-being of your children. It may mean several changes of carer and they may be looked after by people you or they do not know, it can make them feel rejected, they may witness your strained relationship, they may lose their home, and even very short periods of imprisonment can be distressing and confusing to children.

What is more, children have little opportunity to visit you in prison, and visits are often made difficult by the length of the journey, as sometimes it may mean that you end up quite a distance away from home.

There is clear evidence that children's well-being is harmed in the short term. While their parent/s are in prison, children often suffer behavioural and emotional problems. There is also some evidence of long-term harm. Many of the children of imprisoned parents become delinquent in later youth and go on to suffer more general disadvantages. Of course, this is by no means the only explanation โ€” these children often come from backgrounds of poverty, unstable parental relationships, insecure housing, periods in and out of care, criminal parents, etc.

The concept of 'social exclusion' expresses the way in which these and other forms of disadvantage are often found clustered together. But the parent/s imprisonment contributes to many of these factors, and prison may be a wasted opportunity to look for more creative solutions to address the root causes of social exclusion.

So, as you can see, this subject is complex, but it will give you an insight of what could

happen if the tables are turned due to a lack of courtroom survival knowledge.

Could you have avoided the situation?

If not, then could you have de-escalated the situation?

I hope this article has given you some insight to what could happen should you be found guilty of an offence after acting in Self Defence and has urged you to look more deeply into the Law relating to Self Defence in your country and I hope it has also urged you into looking at the subject of Courtroom survival.

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