If you have recently been charged with common assault, contrary to Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, one of the key concerns or questions you may have is likely to be ‘what is the sentence for common assault’. In this article, we shall attempt to answer some key questions and concerns some of our clients have when facing an assault charge.
Definition of Assault
Common assault occurs when a person intentionally or recklessly causes another to suffer or apprehend immediate unlawful violence. If another person apprehends immediate unlawful violence, the offence is likely to have been committed. It is important to note that there does not need to be any physical contact for the offence to be committed. As an example, if a person were to throw a punch which failed to connect, and the other person apprehended immediate unlawful violence the offence has still been committed.
A person does not have to be physically violent towards another, threatening words or a raised fist could lead a victim to believe they are going to be attacked, and that is enough for the assault to have been committed.
Assault by Beating
If violence is alleged to have been used in a common assault, it is called a ‘battery’. This is committed by the intentional or reckless application of unlawful force to another person. Where there is a battery (application of unlawful force), a person is usually charged with ‘assault by beating’. This does not however, mean that the victim was ‘beaten up’ or even hit or kicked, it could be that they were pushed, grabbed or spat at. The victim may not therefore have suffered any physical injury, and if any injury was caused, it would need to be minor to fall under common assault.
Criminal Defence Law
The vast majority of our clients have no previous criminal convictions, have never been in trouble with the Police before, and a charge of common assault can be a very worrying and troublesome time.
Whilst we understand and appreciate the anxiety and concerns our clients face, in the context of the Criminal Justice System a common assault charge is towards the lower end of the violent offences the Court deals with. However, this does not mean that the sentence will be minor.
If a person attends Court and enters a guilty plea to common assault or is found guilty after trial (loses the trial) the Court will need to impose a ‘sentence’ this is essentially the punishment for committing the offence. The sentence (punishment) will need to be proportionate to the offence committed.
The Court will have the following options:
- Impose a custodial sentence (prison sentence) of up to 6 months
- Impose a community order (low, medium or high level)
- Impose a fine of an unlimited amount
As you will note, from above the Court has several options available when sentencing which range from a small fine up to 6 months imprisonment. The sentence the Court decides upon will depend upon the circumstances of the offence, along with the quality and calibre of legal representation you attend Court with. A highly skilled and experienced lawyer in your corner should be able to convince the Court (via mitigation) to impose a far more lenient sentence than they would have given otherwise.
Many of our clients are regulated professionals, such as financial and medical professionals for whom a criminal conviction would have devastating consequences on their career and future earning potential therefore, it is important to carefully consider all options before attending Court. Whilst some clients are grateful that they have avoided a prison sentence for common assault, for some clients the criminal conviction (criminal record) has far severe and long-lasting repercussions.
If you are facing an investigation for common assault or have recently received a Court Summons / Postal Requisition to attend Court and require a robust criminal defence team in your corner, please call us on 0345 222 9955 for an initial no obligation conversation with one of our lawyers.
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