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Grievous bodily harm (GBH) charges can make you feel deep anxiety. From wondering how your family and friends will view you to what will happen to your career, receiving these charges is nothing short of terrifying for many people. However hopeless you may feel, finding an expert GBH lawyer in the UK is the first step to getting the peace of mind you desire. In this post, we will outline the charge of grievous bodily harm and provide some practical advice for finding the best GBH lawyer for your case.
Grievous bodily harm charges are very serious as they involve the substantial harming and/or disfigurement of another person. Governed by the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, specifically Sections 18 and 20, this crime is committed if someone intentionally or unintentionally inflicts substantial bodily harm to another person. Here are some common examples:
While similar to the crime of actual bodily harm (ABH), GBH differs in that serious (and often permanent) harm has come to the victim. In ABH cases, the harm done may be substantial, but it is not considered permanent.
In terms of sentencing, the average custody times will depend on whether one has been convicted on a Section 18 or Section 20 GBH charge. Section 18 charges are much more severe as intent to grievously harm the victim is present. The maximum sentence for Section 18 offences is life in prison, and the average sentencing range is 2-16 years in custody. Section 20 charges are when the degree of harm inflicted was unintentional, and thus carries less severe sentences. The maximum penalty for these offences is 5 years in prison.
Given the possibility of life in prison with GBH charges, finding a trusted GBH lawyer is of utmost importance. Here are some characteristics you should look for in any GBH lawyer.
In many cases, the harm that is caused to the victim deeply affects the perpetrator–more so in cases of unintentional GBH. Making sure you have a lawyer on your side that cares deeply for your situation has many benefits. Firstly, being questioned about the, sometimes, graphic details of your crime can be much easier knowing the person you are confiding in will not judge you. Secondly, a lawyer that has compassion for you will care more about you finding justice than you being a high-paying client.
The sentences that go along with GBH cases will turn on certain key factors such as harm suffered by the victim and the culpability of the perpetrator. In any GBH case, even those that seem straightforward, there are a large number of details and facts to sort through. A lawyer that is adept at logical thinking will be able to create a strong case for a reduced sentence–or charge dismissal–by connecting seemingly divergent facts. In a complex field such as law, solid critical thinking skills are a must.
Expertise in their field
Undoubtedly, there are many criminal defence lawyers that could represent you in your case, but GBH’s complexity means that cases come with their own set of nuances. Arguably the most important quality in a GBH lawyer is their expertise in the niche of assault, battery, ABH, and GBH cases. Hiring a lawyer who deals with these matters on a day-to-day basis means they will know common strategies for reducing charges and will readily spot strengths and weaknesses in your case. Moreover, more expertise usually means less time spent on a matter, which in turn means fewer billable hours.
Once you know what to look for in a lawyer, it can feel overwhelming to begin your search. To help you spend the least time searching we have compiled some efficient search strategies below.
Reviewing the UK Law Society website
The UK Law Society website is one of the most well-respected resources for finding GBH lawyers – and for good reason. Similar to legal directories/databases, you can search for lawyers that meet the criteria you are looking for (field of expertise, accreditations, and more). The Law Society’s site has the additional benefit of marking lawyers or firms that are renowned with a Law Society icon. This will save you time sorting through hundreds of options with no way to compare them.
Reading authoritative legal magazines, journals, and articles is an effective way to locate a trusted lawyer who specialises in GBH cases. The authors of these pieces are leaders in their fields and are usually invited to write on topics because of their proven expertise. A popular publication to examine is Criminal Justice Matters. Reading these publications will also give you insights into your own case and the laws governing it. This knowledge will make discussions with your lawyer much easier.
Word of mouth
In contrast to online reviews, getting first-hand accounts of a particular lawyer is much more valuable. You get to learn about how the lawyer handles a case, deals with their clients, and carries themselves in court. That kind of information is of a higher quality and can set your mind at ease much more readily. While it may be embarrassing or inconvenient to discuss your charges with people, finding a trusted confidant who has gone through a similar thing almost always pays dividends.
Reviewing industry rankings
Searching through legal directors can be a very productive use of your time. These massive databases allow you to sort through thousands of firms, lawyers, or sole practitioners using filters to narrow your results. These filters can include rating, location, areas of competence, etc. Well-known directories include Legal 500, and Law Firms. Doing this kind of a search will give you lots of options in your area.
Searching the internet
Lastly, searching for a GBH lawyer through common platforms such as Google or Bing can be fruitful – if you do it strategically. Ensuring you use correct keywords and phrases to narrow your search is crucial. Here are some search examples to get you started:
Although every GBH lawyer in the UK could charge differently, there are some common means of paying for legal representation that you should be aware of. Knowing this range will help you better negotiate fees with your lawyer.
Criminal defence lawyers in the UK charge anywhere from £120-400+ per hour, with the odd outliers. If you are looking to hire a lawyer in the London area, be prepared to pay slightly higher fees than you would for lawyers in other areas.
In contrast to hourly billing arrangements, retainer agreements involve paying a fee in advance decided by you and your lawyer based upon a multitude of pertinent factors – such as the complexity of your case. The lawyer’s time, administration fees, and other charges are deducted from this amount as work is being done. Note that lawyers who use this type of fee will typically expect replenishment of the retainer each month.
Fixed fee schedules
Comparable to retainer agreements, this flat fee is paid either during or after the work is completed. This amount will be decided by the matter’s complexity, the lawyer’s experience and education, and other factors. Rather than paying every month, however, you only pay once. Remember that the agreed-upon fee will not include charges such as disbursements and VAT fees. Finally, note that this fee may be subject to change if the lawyer feels the initial price does not represent the scope of work required once the case gets underway.
If you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, our specialised team of GBH lawyers at Stuart Miller Solicitors is here to help. With decades of experience, affordable rates, and a strong track record of successful cases, you can feel confident your case will get the attention it deserves. Contact us today for a non-judgmental consultation.
A legal expert will consult you within 24 hours of making an enquiry.
We will always treat you with trust, understanding and respect.
Your case will be handled by an expert who specialises in your type of offence.
We will take early action to end proceedings as soon as it is practically and legally possible to do so.
You will be kept updated on your case at all times. We will provide a named contact available to answer your questions.
We understand this is a difficult and stressful time for you and your family. Our team will support you every step of the way.
We will never give up on your case. We fight tirelessly to get you the best possible outcome.