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In criminal law, the term offence against the person or crime against the person usually refers to a crime which is committed by direct physical harm or force being applied to another person.

They are usually analysed by division into the following categories:

They can be further analysed by division into:

And it is then possible to consider degrees and aggravations, and distinguish between intentional actions (e.g., assault) and criminal negligence (e.g., criminal endangerment).

Offences against the person are usually taken to comprise:

These crimes are usually grouped together in common law countries as a legacy of the Offences against the Person Act 1861.

Although most sexual offences will also be offences against the person,[3] for various reasons (including sentencing and registration of offenders) sexual crimes are usually categorised separately. Similarly, although many homicides also involve an offence against the person, they are usually categorised under the more serious category.

United Kingdom

England and Wales

Fatal offences

See also: Homicide in English law

In section 2(2) of the Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996, "fatal offence" means:

Sexual offences

Main article: Sexual offences in the United Kingdom

See also: Rape, Sexual abuse, and Rape in English law

Non-fatal non-sexual offences

See also: Non-fatal offences against the person in English law

For offences of aggravated assault, see Assault#England and Wales

Visiting Forces Act 1952

The expression "offence against the person" is used as a term of art in section 3 of the Visiting Forces Act 1952 (15 & 16 Geo.6 & 1 Eliz.2 c.67) and is defined for that purpose by paragraphs 1 (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) and 2 (Scotland) of the Schedule to that Act.

England and Wales and Northern Ireland

In the application of section 3 of the 1952 Act to England and Wales and Northern Ireland it means any of the following offences:

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (March 2011)

It formerly included in particular:


In the application of section 3 of the 1952 Act to Scotland, the expression "offence against the person" means any of the following offences:

United States

Federal law

Most federal crimes in the United States are contained within Title 18 of the United States Code. While the code is divided into multiple parts and multiple chapters, there is no part or chapter titled "crimes against the person," or anything similar thereto.[14] Although there is an absence of a chapter or part with the aforementioned name, the code still does contain provisions for crimes such as murder, rape, and assault, among others, all crimes which are typically considered to be a crime against the person.

American Samoa

Offences against the person in American Samoan law are contained in Chapter 35 of Title 46 of the annotated code, with the chapter carrying the title "Offenses Against the Person."[15]


Crimes against the person in California law are contained within Title 8 of Part 1 of the California Penal Code, with Title 8 carrying the title "OF CRIMES AGAINST THE PERSON." This title includes sections 187 through 248 inclusive of the Penal Code.[16]

See also


  1. ^ Often referred to as administration of a noxious substance in legal parlance.
  2. ^ Some legal systems have two separate crimes: occasioning grievous bodily harm, and intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm.
  3. ^ For example, it would be legally impossible to rape another person without also committing a battery against them
  4. ^ "Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  5. ^ The Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996, section 2(3)(b) (as substituted by section 177(1) of and paragraph 60(2) of Schedule 21 to, the Coroners and Justice Act 2009). Commencement: 1 February 2010. SI 2010/145, art. 2(2) & Sch. paras. 18(a) & 25(a).
  6. ^ The Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996, section 2(3)(c) (as inserted by section 58(1) of, and paragraph 33 of Schedule 10 to, the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004). Commencement: 21 March 2005. SI 2005/579, arts. 2(b) and (c).
  7. ^ a b This expression is used by Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice, 1999, para 19-224, in a specimen count, in the statement of the offence. The particulars of the offence in the specimen count actually charge administration of "a poison or other destructive or noxious thing".
  8. ^ "The reference to an offence of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring suicide or an attempt to commit suicide is prospectively replaced by a reference to an offence under section 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 or section 13(1) of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 (encouraging or assisting suicide)". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003". 27 May 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  10. ^ a b c "Sexual Offences Act 2003". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  11. ^ "The Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008". 24 July 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Sexual Offences Act 2003". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  13. ^ a b "The Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008". 24 July 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Browse the United States Code". Office of the Law Revision Counsel. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  15. ^ "Chapter 35 - Offenses Against the Person". American Samoa Bar Association. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  16. ^ "Title 8 of Part 1 of the California Penal Code". California Office of Legislative Counsel. 1872. Retrieved 29 January 2021.