grievous bodily harm | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Criminal Law

Grievous bodily harm is a deliberate serious bodily injury inflicted on one person by another.

Grievous bodily harm (GBH) is a term used in criminal law to describe a type of physical harm inflicted upon another person. It refers to an intentional, serious bodily injury that is inflicted by one person upon another, causing substantial harm or damage. The harm must be severe enough to cause serious and long-lasting damage to the victim’s physical and/or mental health.

GBH is an element of serious offenses, and those convicted of them can face significant penalties, including lengthy prison sentences. The specific definition of GBH can vary depending on the jurisdiction, but it generally involves injuries that are more serious than those that would be considered simple assault or battery. Examples of GBH may include severe burns, broken bones, permanent disfigurement, or injuries that result in a long-term disability.

The definition of GBH can also vary depending on the intent of the perpetrator. In some cases, GBH may be inflicted intentionally, with the perpetrator intending to cause serious harm to the victim. In other cases, GBH may be inflicted recklessly or negligently, without the intent to cause harm but with a disregard for the potential consequences of the actions.

The Model Penal Code (MPC), a framework used by many U.S. states for criminal law, defines GBH as an injury that causes or creates a substantial risk of death or serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. The MPC recognizes that a defendant’s actions may be intentional or reckless, and the level of culpability may vary depending on the circumstances of the case.

GBH is often charged as a separate offense in criminal cases, but it can also be considered an aggravating factor in other criminal offenses, such as assault or homicide. For example, if an assault results in GBH, the perpetrator may face additional charges and increased penalties.

Victims of GBH may suffer long-term physical, emotional, and financial consequences. In addition to physical pain and suffering, victims may require extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and therapy to recover from their injuries. They may also face financial hardships due to lost wages, medical expenses, and ongoing care needs.

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Last Modified: 04/10/2023


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