Have you been accused of assault or battery?
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
Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 defines assault as a person acting intentionally or recklessly to ‘cause another to suffer or apprehend immediate unlawful violence’. Consequently, even if the victim of assault reacts in time to prevent any injury, it can still be an assault.
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:
- Common assault
- Actual bodily harm (ABH)
- Grievous bodily harm (GBH)
- Grievous bodily harm with intent (GBH with intent)
The offence of common assault is committed when:
- A person assaults another person
- 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.
What factors affect the sentencing of common assault charges?
If you have been accused of assault, how the case is dealt with depends on which level of offence is charged:
- Whether there has been physical contact – in some cases, threatening words or gestures are enough to constitute assault
- The seriousness of any injuries inflicted – only the most minor physical injuries fall under common assault
- If the injuries sustained were intentional – reckless harm will attract leniency
- The vulnerability of the victim – causing harm to more vulnerable people will result in tougher sentencing
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.
What defence is there against common assault charges?
One of the most common defences against the charge of common assault is that no assault actually occurred. Since common assault doesn’t involve significant injuries and there is sometimes no physical contact at all, it can sometimes be difficult for the prosecution to prove that the offence took place.
Another legal strategy could be to demonstrate that the harm caused wasn’t as severe as the prosecution allege it was. Or your legal team could seek to downplay your culpability for the crime. For instance, if you were part of a group that committed an assault, but you yourself played a minor role in the crime.
Many people accused of common assault or battery cite self-defence, defence of another or defence of a property as a defence or mitigating factor in their case. Preventing a crime can also be a valid defence against a charge of common assault or, indeed, ABH or GBH.
How can Lawtons common assault solicitors help you?
As experienced assault and battery solicitors, we can help to formulate the right defence strategy and identify any evidence that might help your case.
We’ll work to have charges against you dropped, which is an outcome we’ve achieved for many previous clients. If charges go ahead, however, we’ll ensure that any damage to your reputation is minimised, safeguarding your future as far as possible.
Alongside expert legal representation, we’ll provide personal reassurance and guidance every step of the way.
Contact us today and we can begin working on a defence strategy now.
FAQs about Common Assault
What is the penalty for common assault?
Can assault charges be dropped?
- A lack of sufficient evidence
- Withdrawn witness statements
- 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?
What if an assault is racially or religiously aggravated?
Our Team of Common Assault Solicitors