Have you been accused of assault?

Assault is a criminal offence. Some types of assault are deemed more serious than others, and convictions and sentences will match.

The type of assault you could be charged with can be dependent on the circumstances of the offence, such as:

  • The severity of the injuries inflicted 
  • Whether the assault was intentional or reckless ie. unintentional

 

What is common assault?

Common assault is the lowest level of assault, classified in the Criminal Justice Act 1988. The offence is ‘summary only and, as such, can only be heard in a magistrates’ court. Common Assault is often called other things too, such Assault by beating, or Battery. These different terms can result in confusion, however, they all refer to the same offence.

The criminal offence of assault includes:

  1. Common assault
  2. Actual bodily harm (ABH)
  3. Grievous bodily harm (GBH)
  4. Grievous bodily harm with intent (GBH with intent)

The offence of common assault is committed when:

  1. A person assaults another person
  2. A person commits an act of battery (the intentional and reckless use of unlawful force against another)

 

What if there has been no injury?

No physical injury needs to take place for common assault to be committed. Common assault involves the unlawful touching of a person – where they have not ‘silently’ consented – but no injury needs to occur.

 

What is the sentence for common assault?

The offence of common assault carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and/or a fine or community order. Depending on how serious the physical assault or injuries are, if it is a first offence, common assault is unlikely to result in a prison sentence, yet it will appear on criminal records.

If common assault is a repeat offence or actual violence has been proven to have been used, the offender will have higher culpability. This is also the case if there are aggravating factors involved in the offence, such as racial motivation.

If you have been accused of assault, how the case is dealt with depends on which level of offence is charged:

  1. Whether there has been physical contact
  2. The seriousness of any injuries inflicted
  3. If the injuries sustained were intentional
  4. The vulnerability of the victim

 

What to do if you are accused of common assault

If you are charged with common assault and are facing court proceedings, then you should appoint an expert criminal defence solicitor. Lawtons solicitors will work with you to ensure you are fairly represented and that the best outcome is achieved in accordance with the facts of the case.

 

For more information on legal proceedings surrounding common assault charges or to discuss an individual case in complete confidence, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Useful links

 

Q&As

 

What is the penalty for common assault?

As a summary offence, common assault carries a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment and/or a fine.

 

Can assault charges be dropped?

Yes. Assault charges can be dropped for a number of different reasons, including:

  1. A lack of sufficient evidence
  2. Withdrawn witness statements
  3. The decision to take the offence to court is not in the victim’s interest

 

How long does common assault stay on your record in the UK?

If you admit an offence, the police can give you a caution depending on the seriousness of the case, whether it is domestic violence or not and whether there are any previous recorded matters. How long an assault stays on your record depends on what the outcome of the case is.

 

What if an assault is racially or religiously aggravated?

Common Assault is capable of being racially/religiously aggravated under the Crime and Disorder Act 1988. Depending on the seriousness of the assault, the sentencing can take place in the Crown Court or Magistrates’ Court.