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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have been charged with section 20 assault, The cps is

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Hi I have been charged with section 20 assault
JA: Do you have any upcoming court dates on the assault charges?
Customer: The cps is sending me a letter through the post, the officer dealing with the case put it through as a section 47 but it’s been upped to section 20
JA: Where did the assault occur?
Customer: In Merseyside, the victim was hit with a shovel causing minor injuries, a cut which needed gluing, so I’m unsure why it’s a section 20
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No thanks

Hi, welcome to JustAnswer. My name is*****’m a barrister with 12 years of experience and I am happy to help with your question today.

Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Hi thank you

I can call in 20 mins?

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Hi is there any chance I can cancel the call an he refunded an just speak here?

Yes, no problem.

Shall we carry on here?

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Yeah thank you, ***** ***** been charged with section 20 assault for hitting someone with a shovel, causing minor injuries ( cut above his left ear which required gluing) the officer dealing with this case put it through as section 47 but the cps has decided that it’s a section 20 assault
Customer: replied 3 days ago.
What is your advice on a custodial sentence? And is there any chance of an guilty plea it would get dropped back down to section 47?

Thank you.

You can always make representation to them about a S47 but actually the sentencing guidelines don't make a distinction between them.

Sentence really depends on factors that I won't have here. You have probably seen the guidelines here

https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Assault-definitive-guideline-Web.pdf

On first offences, even for a S20, you don't usually go to prison though.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please remember to rate my answer 5 stars because giving a 5 star rating really helps me.

Jo

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Can I tell you some factors? I just want to know the possibility of a jail sentence, the victim did not sustain serious injuries relevant to gbh, he had a cut which did not require stitches and was discharged from hospital the same day. I have only one previous conviction for common assault which I completed 120 hours of community service for. I just want the know the circumstance as I have a child and another one on the way, an will I be setenced in crown or magistrates

It isn't just the injury.

It is the factors of the assault.

When was your conviction?

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
The common assault was about a year an a half ago, also the factors of the assault was I turned up an assaulted him with a shovel whilst he was in work, he wasn’t seriously hurt or nothing, I just don’t know why the cps have got it down as a section 20, is there any way I could plead with them to have the charge dropped to a 47? And what are the chances of me going to prison if he didn’t sustain serious injuries

You can always make representation to them about a S47 but actually the sentencing guidelines don't make a distinction between them.

On first offences, even for a S20, you don't usually go to prison though.

This is a second offence and the other was quite recently. It is probably greater culpability, lesser harm because of the use of a weapon but the low level injury.

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
basically a catergory 2 then? Do you think il get a suspended sentence for it, or do you think il be looking at a custodial sentence giving my circumstances of my child and another on the way?
Customer: replied 3 days ago.
will it be classed as a first offence or a second offence because of my other common assault charge
Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Please just let me know if I’m expecting a custodial sentence so I can make arrangements, I know it’s lesser harm greater culpability, but I have got a few good character references and my girlfriend is pregnant with my second child, and also the vicitim isn’t seriously injured

Well, we are estimating but probably category 2.

It is a escond offence.

you can't rely upon a suspended sentence obviously but i think you would probably be lucky.

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Even if the charges get downgraded to a section 47 you don’t think it will be a suspended sentence maybe even a community order? As the injuries are really not that serious

Well, as I've said, it doesn't make any difference whether it is a S47 or S20 for the reasons explained.

you can't rely upon a suspended sentence obviously but i think you would probably achieve that.

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
How come there is no difference, I thought the sentencing guidelines are different between 47 and 20, I’m not relying on a suspended Setence I just want to know the possibility of one given the circumstances and the charge, also what are the possibilities of a community order for this offence

There is no realistic prospect of a community order. You used a weapon to strike him in the head.

The low level of injuries were lucky but there is an element of luck in criminal law.

Combined with delay you would probably get a suspended sentence although that can't be guaranted.

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
What does combined with delay mean? And I know it was a assault with a weapon. What’s the element of luck in criminal law? Won’t they take into account that the injuries were really not that serious and that I am remorseful in my actions, I really can’t be looking at a jail term as my wife an kid needs me

The element of luck is that it was good fortune the injuries weren't more serious.

The minor injury is only one part of the sentencing exercise.

This is plainly higher culpability and lower harm.

you would probably get a suspended sentence although that can't be guaranted.

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Yeah I understand it’s higher culpability, but what does delay in the case mean? And if worse case I don’t get a suspended sentence how long am I looking at for this assault? I just don’t see how they would put me in jail for such a small amount of harm but great culpability
Customer: replied 3 days ago.
I’ve just read on the sentencing guideline aswell that catergory 2 for abh is less than catergory 2 for section 20 so if it does get dropped down, won’t that mean I would get less than say if it was charged as a section 20
Customer: replied 3 days ago.
It says for section 47 it is higher culpability for the use of a weapon but less harm which is 26 weeks opposed to the section 20, 52 weeks
Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Please let me know

Delay generally reduces the sentence.

Generally delay does not arise but in the age of coronavirus it will

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
The assault happened on 28th may this year and the cps have already issued the charge, is that delay, or does that mean it’s more serious

By the time it is sentenced it could be a while off although probably not the worst.

Now that courts are returning to work.

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
what your saying is the case really isn’t that serious?
Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Otherwise I would of been arrested, remanded and charged even sooner?

Oh no, not at all. The delays were all over the place throughout coronavirus.

This is a S20 which is not the worst offence but certainly not a minor one.

I do understand that you are worried but I am not going to be able to tell you that you can guarantee you will not go to prison.

Probably you would not but I cannot guarantee that.

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Yeh I understand you have to tell me there’s a chance of prison, but as you have opened with I’m probably not it’s makes it abit better for me, my head is just abit all over the place as I don’t deal with stress well haha
Customer: replied 3 days ago.
I just know someone who stabbed another person up, who had to be airlifted to hospital, an the person was charged with a section 20 just like me, that’s why I’m abit worried

Oh yes, but that just refers to the injuries. It covers a while scale. Remember he will probably also be charged with S18.

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Yeh he was charged with a s 18 at first an then in the newspaper it was a section 20 without intent even though he used a knife, I think his sentence was 3 years 7 months

I wouldn't rely on newspapers. Journalists get this wrong all the time.

If you use a knife it is quite difficult to argue there is no intent apart from anything else.

It isn't really comparable to yours.

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Also with my case I didn’t turn up with the shovel either, it was there next to the victim and I just recklessly picked it up which I shouldn’t have to be honest I didn’t intend to even cause the minor wound to him, I’m just confused as to why a reckless assault can be in the same catergory as a stabbing which is much worse
Customer: replied 2 days ago.
Can I just ask one last thing what do you think the worst case scenario in this outcome could be, like 2 years custodial?

Oh no, I would expect about 18 months but that would probably be suspended.

Customer: replied 7 hours ago.
Hi, just one last thing, I have been charged with section 20 wounding without intent, is there any chance the court could find me guilty for wounding with intent or would the victims injuries not be serious enough for that

No, there is no prospect of a section 18 here

Customer: replied 5 hours ago.
But what if I intended to cause wounding but the injuries we’re nowhere near the case of section 18 would they still try to charge me for intent or is my s 20 charge the highest it will go now

They could charge you with attempted section 18 but they don’t do that commonly in cases like this.

Customer: replied 5 hours ago.
What would the argument be then in the without intent part, if a weapon was used, wouldn’t a weapon significantly mean intent straight away?
Customer: replied 4 hours ago.
Shouldn’t my case be charged as abh with intent?