CPS publishes crime guide from black eyes to broken bones

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The Independent Online
AN OFFICIAL guide to what counts as violence in a criminal case along with a league table of injuries will be published today, writes Jason Bennetto.

The Crown Prosecution Service has produced a document to help prosecutors to select the appropriate charge in incidents involving violence from common assault to attempted murder. The move follows allegations by police and victims that the CPS is undercharging in assault cases and is inconsistent in decision-making.

The guide says common assault may include a black eye, grazes, scratches, minor bruising and superficial cuts. Grievous bodily harm would involve 'broken or displaced limbs or bones; injuries which cause substantial loss of blood, usually necessitating a transfusion; more than minor permanent visible disfigurement'.

If intent is proven, which could include 'using an offensive weapon against, or kicking, the victim's head', then a more serious charge can be made which can bring a life sentence.

Attempted murder - maximum penalty is life imprisonment - should include evidence which may support an intention to kill, such as 'calculated planning' and 'selection and use of deadly weapon'. 'The actions of the defendant must be more than preparatory,' says the guide.

The guidelines emphasise: 'There must be no overcharging by selecting a charge which is not supported by the evidence in order to encourage a plea of guilt to a lesser allegation.' Any attempt at overcharging, says the CPS, is 'an unacceptable practice and should in no circumstances be followed'.

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