Our Services

Solicitors for Cases of Grievous Bodily Harm

At JD Spicer Zeb Solicitors, our criminal defence lawyers have decades of experience of successfully advising and representing clients facing charges involving the infliction of, or intention to do, grievous bodily harm. 

We understand how traumatic an arrest for these types of serious criminal offences can be. With our experience, we can skilfully guide you through all stages of criminal proceedings, making the process easier on you while defending your legal rights and giving you the best chance of a positive outcome.

With a wide range of languages spoken across our criminal defence team, we can give clear, effective legal advice to people from all backgrounds. We also have strong links with a number of specialist criminal defence barristers, so can ensure you have the very best barrister available as an advocate if you are required to attend a court hearing.

Our team have a strong track record of success in representing clients facing even the most complex and serious grievous bodily harm charges.  Many of our clients have come to us as a result of our reputation and recommendations from previous clients.

  • Have you or someone close to you been arrested on suspicion of committing GBH?
  • Are you required to attend a police station by appointment?
  • Have you been released on bail to return to the police station?
  • Have you been charged with grievous bodily harm?
  • Have you received a postal summons or requisition?

For a free initial consultation on your legal position and the available options, contact our local offices in LondonBirmingham or Manchester.

Need immediate legal support? Our accredited Police Station Representatives are available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Please use the emergency numbers listed at the top of the page for on-the-spot specialist legal representation for a GBH charge.

Conviction for offences involving grievous bodily harm can result in very lengthy sentences of imprisonment, so if you are arrested or charged with GBH, it is critical to have specialist, expert legal support for your defence from the very outset. 

JD Spicer Zeb Solicitors have acted in some of England and Wales’s most high-profile criminal cases for over 40 years, meaning our criminal defence team can provide immediate, first-class legal support for anyone dealing with charges for grievous bodily harm.

If you have been charged with grievous bodily harm, you can contact us 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Our criminal defence expertise

With decades of experience supporting clients facing charges involving grievous bodily harm, we understand the full complexities of these types of serious criminal offences. Our team can therefore ensure that no critical piece of evidence or possible angle of defence is overlooked, so we can secure the best available outcome for you.

We have a number of accredited police station representatives, allowing us to offer 24-hour police station representation, and we regularly represent clients in both Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court. Our strong working relationships with a wide range of criminal defence barristers means we can find the best possible advocate with the specialist expertise you need for even the most complex GBH charges.

Our team have been accredited by the Law Society for Criminal Litigation and Children Law, recognising our exceptional skills in representing both adults and young people during criminal proceedings.

JD Spicer Zeb is also Lexcel accredited by the Law Society, meaning we meet the highest levels of good management and customer care set by the Law Society of England and Wales.

Our criminal defence lawyers speak multiple languages and we also work with various approved external interpreters, allowing us to deliver our services in more than 60 languages. Please take a look at our list of languages spoken to find out more.

What counts as grievous bodily harm?

Grievous bodily harm (GBH) means ‘really serious’ bodily harm. If a GBH case goes to court, it will be up to the jury to determine whether the injuries caused are ‘really serious’ and therefore whether the offence should be considered GBH or, for example, the lesser offence, of assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH).

Injuries that may be considered GBH can include those that result in permanent disability, disfigurement, broken bones, substantial loss of blood (e.g. where a transfusion is needed) or serious psychiatric injury.

Specific offences involving grievous bodily harm include:

  • Causing grievous bodily harm with intent or wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm (s18, Offences Against the Person Act 1861)
  • Wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm (s20 of the same Act) (this is where really serious bodily harm has been done but the intent to do so cannot be proven )
  • Attempting to cause Grievous Bodily Harm (s18)

Factors that may increase the penalties for a GBH offence can include where there was a significant degree of premeditation (planning) before the offence, where the offence was racially or religiously motivated, where a weapon was used and where the victim was deliberately targeted due to their perceived vulnerability.

What are the penalties for GBH?

The penalties for those convicted of an offence involving GBH will depend on various factors, including the exact nature of the offence, the seriousness of the injuries involved and any aggravating factors or mitigating circumstances that must be taken into account.

Causing grievous bodily harm with intent to do grievous bodily harm and wounding with intent to do GBH carry a standard sentencing range of 3–16 years’ custody with a maximum possible sentence of life imprisonment for the most serious offences.

What are my rights when arrested for grievous bodily harm?

If you are arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and taken to a police station for questioning, you need to know your rights to make sure you do not unintentionally say or do anything to harm your defence.

You should always keep in mind that you do not have to answer any questions the police ask you and they are required to caution you by using the words:

“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court.  Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”

You should never answer any police questions without a solicitor present.

At the time of your arrest, the police officers involved must explain why you are being arrested and the crime they believe you have committed.

After the interview you could be charged with a specific criminal offence and released on bail or kept in custody to appear at court.

When released on bail, a date will be set for your court appearance. There may be bail conditions requiring you not to contact the complainant.

 The police can also release you with no further action or under investigation until such time as they have the evidence to pursue the case further. In such cases you can be rearrested or summonsed to attend court.

What defence is there against a charge of grievous bodily harm?

There are various defence strategies that may be used if you are prosecuted for an offence involving alleged grievous bodily harm.

Pleading guilty to a lesser charge

In many cases, it may be possible for you to plead guilty to a lesser charge, such as assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH), which attracts less serious penalties. This can potentially allow you to avoid court proceedings altogether if the police can be persuaded to caution you formally for the lesser offence, rather than pursue charges for a more serious offence.

Where the injuries do not amount to GBH

Alternatively, we may need to demonstrate in court that the injuries sustained do not meet the standard required to be considered GBH. This approach will typically rely on various types of specialist evidence, including from independent medical experts, to clearly establish the severity of the injuries involved.

Where there were mitigating circumstances

Where GBH is considered to have occurred, there may be mitigating circumstances that we can highlight to help minimise any penalties you face. This might include factors such as limited involvement in the offence on your part or provocation on the part of the injured party.

Where you were acting in self-defence

Sometimes injuries to another might be caused when defending yourself or someone else from attack. Under the law, you are allowed to use “reasonable force” to defend yourself or another person from an attack.  You can do the same thing where you fear an attack is about to take place.

Whether your conduct amounts to self-defence and whether you used “reasonable force” will depend on the circumstances. The law in this area is very complicated, so it is essential to take specialist legal advice at the earliest opportunity.

Key points to understand are that you do not necessarily have to have been attacked first to have been considered to be acting in self-defence and that, even if the force you used is found to have been excessive, the fact you were trying to act in self-defence can still result in lower criminal penalties.

Confused about the law around self-defence? Please take a look at our guide to using self-defence as a defence in criminal law.

Contact our criminal law defence solicitors today

For urgent specialist advice, immediate representation or to speak to us confidentially about a charge for grievous bodily harm or any other criminal matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

You can contact a member of our dedicated team of criminal defence lawyers in London, Birmingham, and Manchester by telephone on:

  • City of London: 0207 624 7771 - our senior Solicitors and Partners can meet by appointment in the City.
  • Camden Office: 020 7624 7771
  • Manchester Office: 0161 835 1638
  • Birmingham Office: 0121 614 3333

Or email: solicitors@jdspicer.co.uk

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

24/7 legal representation for grievous bodily harm offences

For immediate representation and advice, you can contact our Emergency Number: 07836 577 556, and we will provide you with the urgent assistance you need.


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For new serious cases you can email a senior partner/lawyer directly by clicking here. When you call us you can request a call back or meeting the same day with a senior partner/lawyer or Barrister.