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Home Violent Crimes: Common Assault


Although there is a clear distinction between battery and assault; with one being the threat of the use of force and the other being the actual use of force on another, assault is more often than not used synonymously when referring to either offence. Assault, for the purpose of clarification is however the threat and not the actual use of violence or force on the other party. This adds to the confusion which already surrounds the ambiguity of the offence of assault. It renders it almost impossible for clients to be able to fully grasp the details of the allegations they face. Although the offence of common assault is not as serious as either ABH or GBH, it is nonetheless an offence under the provision of the Criminal Justice Act 19 (Sec 39). A section 39 common assault, as it is called, can be brought where the offender has caused harm to the injured party.

If assault charges are brought as a standalone offence, it is far more likely to be heard before and decided in the Magistrate’s court. Where an indictable offence is also in question however and assault by beating or common assault is an additional charge, it will most likely be heard in the Crown Court on indictment. The decision to have the case heard at the Magistrate’s Court or in the Crown Court may prove very vital to the outcome. Our criminal defence lawyers will guide you through the implications and supply expert legal advice at every turn. If you have been charged with section 39 common assault by beating, it is very important that you get in touch with criminal defence solicitors who are able to apply their experience to your case and your particular situation. In some cases, it might prove more sensible in the offender’s favour to agree for the case to be tried in the Magistrate’s Court.

Common Assault ChargeCommon Assault is a Threat Rather Than Physical Force


The maximum common assault sentence upon summary conviction is 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine. The maximum financial penalty for common assault upon summary conviction is £5,000. There is no requirement for actual physical contact in a common assault case. For an assault charge to stand, the claimant must have been given adequate reason to have apprehended the immediate use of physical violence upon their person. In other words, common assault charges may be made even where the offender did not actually hit or physically touch the victim. It is worthy of note here that the mere threat of inflicting pain or harm on the claimant and the latter’s fear of the imminent attack is more than enough for a common assault charge.

Furthermore, the court has held that common assault does not necessarily have to verbal or physical. Making anonymous phone calls to a particular person and remaining silent, breathing heavily or ominously down the phone can lead to a common assault charge where it has the desired effect of instilling fear and apprehension in the claimant.[1] The mental element of the guilty mind is required for a charge of common assault. As such, the prosecution must evidence to the court that the defendant intended to cause the claimant to be fearful of imminent unlawful violence or to be apprehensive about the same. Common assault can therefore simply be defined as any act which is aimed at intentionally or recklessly causing another person to be apprehensive or fearful of immediate violent attack. Where the feared violence subsequently occurs, it becomes an assault and battery case.

 Charged for Assault?:

“I have been charged with common assault; what happens next?”

If you or your loved ones are facing common assault (or assault and battery) charges, you will need to make sure you are being defended by expert criminal defence lawyers who do not only know the law inside and out but are also highly experienced in the court room. Here at London’s most prominent criminal defence law network, our lawyers boast of decades of criminal defence experience and they are, as a result, very knowledgeable in diverse criminal law matters. Defending violent crime charges such as common assault is one of our many areas of expertise.  Get legal advice and assistance from our dedicated experts at criminal defence Solicitors. We are one of the best criminal solicitors in London and we are very proud of our track record and the fact that our business has been built on practically nothing but word of mouth from highly satisfied clients whose loyalty remains the with network. Our clients have introduced numerous other clients to us; their friends, family members and/or colleagues who have at one point or the other found themselves on the other side of the law.

No case is too big for us and this is evident from some of the very high profile cases our solicitors have successfully handled in the past and are currently handling. Our coverage is not limited to the UK, particularly where the criminal matters we are defending have roots in other parts of Europe, and the United States of America, for example. At the same time, no case is too small for us and we strive to dedicate the same attitude to the seemingly easy and straight forward cases as we do to our complex and multimillion dollar cases. Why? It’s very simple; because all our clients matter to us. So, whatever criminal charge you may be facing; assault, murder, manslaughter, ABH, Domestic Violence or GBH, contact us today for swift, professional and expert legal assistance tailored to your specific needs and particular circumstance. We will establish the justification for your actions together and build our defence on any factor we identify as potentially extenuating or mitigating. We will vigorously defend your case and work relentlessly towards achieving the best outcome possible.

Contact us today and the outcome of your case might just depend on that single action!

[1] R v Ireland (1997) 3 WLR 534


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