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Assault and the law

Each allegation is on different facts in relation to this section.

If you need any advice on an Assault matter please contact us, and we will respond as soon as possible, or call us on 01923 225212.

Case Example 1


The Defendant was charged as a result of his wife dialling 999 to make an allegation of assault by beating, contrary to Section 39 Criminal Justice Act 1988. It was further alleged that the defendant threatened to stab his wife. The Defendant adamantly denied the charge and pleaded not guilty.

Penman Sedgwick were instructed, and numerous applications for mentions were made for Directions to obtain evidence from the Crown; eventually, from the date of Plea, a trial took place at Ealing Magistrates Court. The Defence were not prepared in any event for the trial to proceed until such time as all evidence required was disclosed, and prosecution witnesses attended.

The Defendant was found Not Guilty, an Application for Defence costs was made, and awarded by the Court. The Court noted their concerns over the wife`s evidence, and found the Defendant to be a most credible witness.


Case Example 2


The Defendant, a young female, attended a Night Club in Watford, Police officers attended a fight outside the club, and the defendant was arrested on allegations made against her. It was alleged injury resulted to one female and one male as a result. The allegations were denied.

Section 5(1) and 6 of the Public Order Act 1986
Section 47 of the Offences Against The Person Act 1861 (assault occasioning actual bodily harm).
Section 47 of the Offences Against The Person Act 1861 (assault occasioning actual bodily harm).
At Plea, Penman Sedgwick advised the Court that due to evidential problems, and lack of disclosure, the prosecution were required to fulfil obligations and until such time, no plea would be indicated. On further disclosure being provided, we served a Defence Statement, and as a result the Prosecution substituted lesser charges.

Assault by beating contrary to section 39 Criminal Justice Act 1988.
Assault by beating contrary to section 39 Criminal Justice Act 1988. However, on the basis that full disclosure had not been served, Penman Sedgwick then served a Section 8 Application on the Crown Prosecutor and the Court, to disclose evidence.

A plea of Guilty to Section 5(1) and 6 of the Public order Act 1986
The Crown withdrew both the charges of assault against the Defendant.

An Application for costs from Central funds for the Defendant`s costs was made and granted.

On mitigation by Penman Sedgwick, the sentence was: A conditional discharge for 6 months; Prosecution Costs of £85.00.

Case Example 3


Mr S, was charged with two offences:

That he assaulted Mrs S ( his wife ) by beating her contrary to Section 39 of The Criminal Justice Act 1988 on the 31.8.11
That he assaulted Mrs S( his wife ) by beating her contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 on the 7.9.11
Mr S entered a plea of not Guilty on the first occasion before the St.Albans Magistrates Court, and the matter was set for trial.
Penman Sedgwick representing, served a Defence Statement on the Crown Prosecution Service, and further made an Application ( Section 8 CPIA ) on the basis that there was prosecution material required to be served by Section 7A, and had not been, the Application for an Order requiring the Prosecution to serve the material.

The Prosecution, served the material at Court on the morning the Application was to be heard to us, and the matter was dealt with administratively.

On the morning of trial, on the basis of representations made by us, the Prosecution withdrew and offered no evidence. Penman Sedgwick, then made an Application for Defence costs, to be taxed from Central Funds which was granted by the Magistrates.

A most happy ending, Mr and Mrs S are back together again as a family unit.

Case Example 4

R .v. M and M – Highbury and Islington Magistrates Court

Both Defendants were charged with assaulting a male, by beating, contrary to Section 39 of the Criminal justice Act 1988. This matter was a joint enterprise with another two males, one of which made his escape, and was not identified. Penman Sedgwick defended the first two Defendants in trial.

The Defendants were found guilty, and that two aggravating features were present, being part of a Joint enterprise and kicking the victim. THE LAW The sentencing guidelines council definitive to common assault provides that a community sentence threshold is normally passed where one aggravating factor indicating higher culpability is present, and the starting point thereto is a community order. The Learned district Judge indicated that this offence was part of a group action being in terms of a joint enterprise, and that the other factor being kicking, indicating a high culpability., and that custody had been passed. Thereto, the custody threshold is passed on the basis of two or more aggravating features. (The Magistrates Court has a custodial sentence of up to six months for such offence).

We made legal submissions that a Community Order or fine would be appropriate in all the circumstances.

DEFENDANT M ( 1) : 12 weeks custody suspended for 12 months; 100 hours unpaid work for the benefit of the community, prosecution costs of £300.00, compensation to the victim of £100.00.

DEFENDANT M ( 2 ) : £5,000.00 fine, prosecution costs £300.00, compensation to the victim of £300.00

General facts about Common Assault;
Common assault covers conduct that does not result in injury but which puts the victim in fear of violence. Such conduct may of course include acts of spitting, or indeed an attempted punch or blow, which fails to reach the destination on the body. However, where injury has occurred, e.g., superficial cuts, reddening of the skin, minor bruising, swellings, abrasions, grazes and scratches, then the Crown Prosecution Service may justify a charge of common assault.

Factors which indicate higher culpability:
1. Use of a weapon to frighten or harm the victim. 2. The offence was planned or sustained. 3. Head – butting, kicking, biting, or attempted strangulation. 4. The offence was motivated by, or demonstrating, hostility to the victim on account of sexual orientation or disability. 5. The offence was motivated by hostility towards a minority group, or a member or members of such a group. 6. Abuse of a position of trust. 7. Offence part of a group action.

If you have an allegation against you of Common assault, or have been charged, contact us at Penman Sedgwick LLP. Correct advice and representation at the police station is vital. ( See article on police station advice).

In the matter of I
Appeal against conviction from the West London Magistrates Court


The client, I, was previously represented both at a police station and at trial in the Magistrates Court by a legal aid criminal practice.

The facts are that, whilst employed as a Security Manager at a Public House in Central London, an altercation occurred with a group of male and females outside the Public House. Both the client and two males received injury.

As a result, the client was pointed out by the males, and was arrested by police. He was charged with two offences of assaulting each of the males by beating contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

At trial in the Magistrates Court, the client was found guilty on both charges and sentenced to 120 hours unpaid work requirement Community Service. He was previously of outstanding good character.

Instructions were provided on a private client basis to Appeal to the Crown Court against conviction. Penman Sedgwick appeared on instructions.

Case Example 5

R.v.M – Hemel Hempstead Magistrates Court

The Client, being a married man, living at the family home. After having an altercation with his wife, the wife reported him to the police and made criminal allegations against him. As a result, he was arrested and charged with two separate offences of beating his wife on two separate occasions contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

Despite representations to the Crown Prosecution Service to reconsider the allegations in view of evidence submitted, the trial went ahead.

The client pleaded not guilty to the two charges. The issue in dispute was whether the assaults took place.

At trial, the Magistrates on the basis of examination of both parties, and legal submissions, could not determine beyond reasonable doubt who was telling the truth.

The client was found not guilty on both charges, and defence legal costs were granted on application

The client was found not guilty on both charges, and private defence costs assessment be awarded

DRUNK TROOPS who savagely beat up tourist `for being in our land` escape jail because WE NEED THEM IN IRAQ;

Reported in the Sunday Mirror and Sky News

Three soldiers who attacked a man in the street just for being South African escaped jail. The soldiers beat up a male in drunken rage, was punched and kicked and had his head stamped on in an unprovoked attack.

Penman Sedgwick initially was instructed to defend one soldier and then further instructed to take over the defence of the remaining soldiers, in early course of trial.
In submissions we said ` The men are an important part of a unit going to Iraq in May. It is better for experienced professional soldiers to be in Iraq at this country`s time of need`

The Court agreed with us and agreed that if sentenced to custody, a significant loss of liberty would result, and recognised that the soldiers should be allowed to continue their important work.

Fine of £1000.00 each, compensation to the victim of £1000.00 each. Banned from entering a zone within the M25 for 6 months, Banned from all licensed premises for 6 months, and ordered to remain in their Hampshire barracks from 8pm-6am for a period of time..