Difference Between ABH and GBH


ABH and GBH are acronyms that stand for different degrees of bodily harms to a person. There is considerable overlapping and similarity between ABH and GBH to confuse many, especially people involved in law suits where jury hears assault cases. Though it is lawyers who deal with the terms ABH and GBH most of the times, and often the difference between the two decides a person getting longer sentence in prison that can be baffling for him. Attorneys, when they can prove that the victim received GBH instead of ABH, can get a lot more compensation than if they fail to do so. All this can be very confusing for common people. This article tries to differentiate between the two and what their difference can mean in a legal case.


The acronym ABH stands for actual bodily harm and reflects injuries that look significant and can actually be seen such as cuts, bruises, broken teeth, black eyes, blood shedding etc.


It stands for grievous bodily harm and is much more severe than ABH. This is also why GBH is considered a serious offense. Convicts accused of GBH are often denied bail, and they face a prospect of a long sentence in prison.

To understand the difference between the two, let us take an example of a person hitting another person in an unlawful manner like slapping him with hands or hitting him with an object. This is treated as assault as long as there are no marks left by such blows on the body of the victim. But as soon as there is any bruising or cut visible on the body of the victim, the level of charge gets raised to ABH or actual bodily assault. ABH becomes GBH when the injury to the victim is serious such as when his hand or leg gets broken, or there is any head injury. While a first offense related with assault does not bring any sentence in general, there may be some financial penalty slapped on the accused. When the charge is ABH, it is still a bailable offense, but the jury takes note of the seriousness of offense and the accused may be handed over a prison sentence.


What is the difference between ABH and GBH?

• The offense of ABH can be handled in magistrates courts, and the maximum penalty for ABH is 5 years. For the first timers, there is a financial penalty and no prison sentence.

• In most cases of GBH, bail is not granted to the accused, and he faces a prospect of a long prison sentence.

• GBH is often dealt in Crown courts rather than magistrates courts.

• ABH is lighter charge than GBH and attorney trying to get compensation for their clients try to raise the charge of ABH into GBH.