The Meaning of Common Assault

An assault is used to describe both an assault and battery, and indeed, there is often confusion between both the two offences.
Battery – contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988
Common Assault – contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988

What is the Definition of Common Assault?
This is any act by which a person intentionally or recklessly causes another to apprehend immediate unlawful violence. Such an act must be with the intent being calculated in that persons mind to cause apprehension or fear in the mind of the victim. Therefore, where there is no intent, there will be not be an assault, UNLESS, that the person who assaulted another, ( and it was conclusive by way of evidence), that the person was indeed reckless as to the other person would in all probability have indeed apprehended that immediate unlawful violence would be used.

Common assault and battery are summary offences, which means that the matter may only be tried in a Magistrates Court, and if found guilty have a maximum penalty not exceeding six months imprisonment or a fine not exceeding £5,000.00

However, an offence of common assault ( to include battery ) may be tried on indictment, that is the Crown Court.

Case example:
A person throwing a wine bottle at another, and misses, will be an assault.
A person who uses a dog as a threat only, being an intention that the dog bite, but does not do so, will be an assault.

What is the Definition of Battery?
Firstly, when assault is included to the term battery, this is defined as an act whereby a person intentionally or recklessly causes the other person to apprehend immediate unlawful personal violence or to sustain unlawful personal violence.
Battery is the act of intentionally or recklessly asserting unlawful force to another person.

Case example:
Fagan .v. Metropolitan Police Commissioner [ 1969 ] The wheel of a car was driven onto, and allowed to remain on a person`s foot. This was an assault, as although unintentional, it became a continuing act, and so was unlawful, when it was known by the driver that the wheel was on the foot, and knowingly allowed the wheel to remain in position.

What is the Definition of Recklessness?
This is common assault, which involves the FORESIGHT of the POSSIBILITY that a person would fear immediate and unlawful violence, and that person takes the risk of doing the act. It is basically taking the risk, that is being reckless.