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Common Assault Solicitors


If you have been charged with common assault we can help, this is a brief guide. For in depth legal advice speak to a common assault solicitor on 01623 600645.


The Law.


Common assault is the least serious of the assault charges. It is an offence under section 39 of the Offences against the person Act It is charged where there are no injuries or the injuries are not serious. There are 2 sorts of cases, an assault where a person intentionally or recklessly causes another to apprehend the immediate infliction of unlawful force and a battery where a person intentionally and recklessly applies unlawful force to another. The difference being whether there is actual physical force.


A separate offence is committed if it is racially or religiously motivated. This is covered under section 29 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998




In common with all assault matters it is a defence to show that you acted in self defence. You will have to show that you feared an attack and that the force you used was not excessive. You do not have to wait until you are hit before defending yourself, it is enough to show that you thought you were going to be attacked.


In appropriate cases you may be arguing mistaken identity.


If you are charged with common assault there are two defences not available for any other assault offences, namely reasonable chastisement of a child and consent. Both of these are very complex and you should seek professional advice as soon as possible if you feel you may have a defence.


Sentencing Guidelines.


The sentencing guidelines seperate this offence into 3 categories – 


Category 1 is where there is greater harm and higher culpability (fault) – The starting point is a high level community order (e.g. unpaid work or curfew) but can range up to 26 weeks custody.


Category 2 is where there is greater harm and lower culpability or lesser harm and greater culpability. The starting point is Medium level community order up to high level community order and


Category 3 is where there is lesser harm and lower culpability. The starting point is a fine up to higher fine.


The court will first decide which of these categories the offences fits. In terms of harm they will look at the level of injury or fear of injury and whether the victim is particularly vulnerable. In relation to the culpability they will consider whether the offence was motivated by hostility to a persons disability, sexuality, age, sex or gender. Use or threatened use of a weapon will make the matter more serious, this includes headbutts or kicking as will a group activity. 


They will then look at factors that make it more serious and then those that would make it less serious. 


Factors that would make it more serious would include – 


– Previous convictions,  

– location of the offence,

– timing of the offence,

– ongoing effect upon the victim,

– offence committed against those working in the public sector or providing a service to the public,  

– commission of offence whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs

– abuse of power and/or position of trust



Factors that would make it less serious would include – 


– No previous convictions or no relevant/recent convictions

– Single blow

– Remorse

– Good character and/or exemplary conduct

– Determination and/or demonstration of steps taken to address addiction or offending behaviour

– Isolated incident

– Age and/or lack of maturity where it affects the responsibility of the offender

– Lapse of time since the offence where this is not the fault of the offender

– Mental disorder or learning disability, where not linked to the commission of the offence

– Sole or primary carer for dependent relatives


How we can help.


We understand that this is a stressful time for you, you may have no previous convictions. You may feel that you have a valid defence. We will help you through every step of the process and give you honest, straightforward advice. You will be given the mobile number of your lawyer and we will be available at any time of the day.