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Archive for the ‘Assault’ Category

Religiously Aggravated Common Assault

Kirsty Day of Forrest Williams


Racially/ religiously aggravated common assault


Patrick was charged with assault by beating and racially/ religiously aggravated common assault.


Sentencing guidelines show that Patrick could have been potentially facing up to 2 years’ imprisonment under these charges, should he be found guilty.  He was adamant that he was not guilty and we believed him.


Patrick came to our offices for a meeting with solicitor, Steve Williams, to discuss the charges against him and put forward his side of the story.


Patrick was terrified at the prospect of being charged with religiously aggravated common assault and explained that he had got into an argument with his ex-partner regarding access to their young son.  He admitted that they’d been arguing, but strongly denied there being any racial or religious element to their argument and that any contact with his ex-partner was in self-defence as she’d been pushing and shoving him.


When someone looks to plead not guilty to a charge, many firms believe there is not much work that needs to be done prior to the first court hearing as you will only enter your not guilty plea and the Magistrates will adjourn the matter for a trial.  At Forrest Williams we never take this stance, we believe that being pro-active is always the best way forward.


Rather than sit back and wait for this hearing to pass without preparation, we decided to be pro-active and request prosecution papers to see what evidence of religiously aggravated common assault the CPS had against him.


Patrick was able to review the CPS paperwork and discuss this with Steve Williams prior to his court date. On the date of the hearing, Steve was there thirty minutes early ready to discuss Patrick’s case with him and reassure him that we would fight his corner no matter what it took.


Because of this determination Steve was able to liaise with the prosecution before even entering the court room, and by the time Patrick’s case was to be brought before the Magistrates, the CPS acknowledged we had too strong a defence to proceed and the case was dropped with no further action.


If you want to be represented by a firm who fights for your side of the story please call 01623 397200.



What Is Assault?



Most people would say that Assault is the physical act of causing injury to someone, but what a lot of people don’t realise is that “assault” can cover a range of actions from a raised fist to the calculated wounding or attempted murder of another person.


What’s more, physical contact is not always required to support an allegation of assault.  If you shout threats at someone, or take an action that leads them to believe that violence is imminent, then the offence of assault has been committed.  So, in the absence of a physical act of violence it is the state of mind of the victim that is relevant in these cases.


It is also important to know that silence itself can be assault e.g making silent phone calls to a person might cause that person to be afraid that they may come to immediate harm and therefore is classed as assault.


The most common charges under the Offences Against the Person Act are:


Section 39 Common Assault:  A charge of Common Assault requires no physical contact at all so can be a raised fist, a shouted threat or even a text message threatening violence.  Providing the victim believes the threat to be true and apprehends imminent violence then the charge would be proven in court.


Section 39 Common Assault by Beating:  The word “beating” or “battery” gives the misleading impression that serious violence must be present to prove the charge however in fact only a very small degree of physical contact is required.  A slap or punch, kick or any other violent act which did not result in the skin being broken, or did not require any hospital treatment or had no long term effects on the victim would probably be dealt with under Section 39.  Section 39 offences are always dealt with in the Magistrates Court and the maximum sentence is 6 months custody.


Section 47 Actual Bodily Harm (ABH):  These kind of offences are where there is hurt caused to the victim that is considered “transient and trifling”; this means that the hurt doesn’t have to be long lasting but can be anything that interferes with the health or comfort of the victim.  So, for example, an injury that results in hospital treatment or requires stitches but is not a permanent injury would likely be dealt with as ABH.  Injury can also be mental or shock. Section 47 offences can be dealt with by either Magistrates or Crown Court and the maximum sentence in these cases is 5 years in custody.


Section 20 Wounding Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH):  A charge of GBH might come from a case of vicious beating where the victim requires a lengthy hospital stay with treatment, broken bones, loss of sensory functions (e.g. blindness) or permanent disfigurement or disability.  It is used where there is serious and long lasting injury.  Wounding must include an injury that breaks the skin, e.g. knife wound. These offences can be tried in the Magistrates or Crown Court and the maximum sentence is 7 years custody.


Section 18 Wounding or GBH with Intent:  These are very serious cases where intent has to be proven, e.g. using or adapting a weapon (e.g. breaking a bottle to use to slash someone), a repeated or planned attack, prior threats or causing injury to someone’s head, e.g. by kicking them.  These matters are only tried in the Crown Court due to their seriousness if found Guilty can result in life imprisonment.


Where any of the above offences include aggravating factors, e.g. racial or religious, or use of a weapon, then the charges are more serious and the sentences can be much harsher.


If you are being charged with, or investigated for, any assault charge, get the experts on your side now by calling our specialist team for a free initial telephone consultation on 01623 600645.




Conditional Discharge for Common Assault

Conditional Discharge For Common Assault


Forrest Williams were delighted to secure a conditional discharge for a client charged with common assault recently.


Mr Andrews instructed us following an alleged incidence of domestic violence involving his ex-partner. The allegations against Mr Andrews were serious and involved threatening and potentially harming his ex-partner with a knife.


Mr Andrews was a man of good character who did not accept his ex-partner’s version of events.


He was made aware that the sentencing guidelines for common assault did include a custodial risk, and the use or threatened use of a weapon would immediately make the matter an aggravated attack, which they would sentence more harshly.


Mr Andrews was represented by a very skilled female barrister who was carefully selected due to the sensitive nature of the case. If you are faced with a charge following an alleged domestic violence incident, the correct representative in court is absolutely vital.


In Court, Mr Andrews’ ex-partner gave inconsistent evidence when being cross-examined by our barrister, while Mr Andrews’ evidence was consistent and credible.


The Court ruled that they did not believe the extent of the ex-partner’s allegations, and as such limited sentencing to comprise a conditional discharge. This means that whilst Mr Andrews was convicted of the offence, no sentence was passed against him.


You can read more about conditional discharges here.


It was an excellent result for Mr Andrews, who was delighted and incredibly grateful for all of the support that Forrest Williams gave him throughout the case.


We were touched to receive a thank you card and chocolates from Mr Andrews at the end of his case, and will keep in touch with him in the future.


If you’re like a legal team who really care, to fight for you in court, contact us now on 01623 600645.


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