Assault is a criminal offence that can be committed in a number of ways, with some types of assault deemed more serious than others, with convictions and sentences to match.

The type of assault you could be charged with is typically dependent on the circumstances of the offence, such as the severity of the injuries inflicted and whether the assault was intentional or unintentional.

If you have been accused of assaulting someone, you should seek expert legal advice as soon as possible. At Lawtons we have a specialist team of highly experienced criminal solicitors, who are able to defend your case and achieve the best outcome for you. We are available to support you through the entire legal process and represent you in court, if necessary.

What is common assault?

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)

Common assault is the least serious form 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.

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)

No physical contact 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. 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. Many factors will be taken into account when it comes to determining the sentences for assault, including but not limited to:

  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 that will review the facts of your case which may help you achieve a positive outcome, picking out the right things to highlight and bring to the court’s attention.

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 just contact us.


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