Common Assault | Everything You Need To Know

by | Sep 15 2021 | Criminal Defence

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Common assault is one of the most common types of assault charges in the UK. Therefore, there are many questions regarding the offence and the associated punishments. Below, we explain everything you need to know about the offence, the associated punishments, defences and the benefits of seeking legal assistance.

If you are facing a common assault charge, we can help. Get in touch today on 020 3795 9020.

Common Assault Offence - LGBT Lawyers - Article

What is common assault? 

Put simply, common assault is when a person inflicts violence on another individual or makes them fear an attack. It’s important to note that no actual force needs to be applied. A person simply has to make an individual fear they are going to inflict violence on them.

Typically the offence will involve the offender committing one of the following: 

  • Pushing
  • Slapping
  • Spitting
  • Spoken threats
  • Threats through gestures 

If the police have recently accused you of common assault, get in contact with us today on 020 3795 9020, we can help. 

What is a common assault charge? 

A common assault charge is a triable only summary offence. This means that it can only be dealt with by the magistrate’s court. These types of offences are categorised as the least severe a defendant can receive. 

For more information on triable only summarily offences, please see our triable only-way offence article

How does the offence differ from assault by beating & domestic violence?

The difference between common assault and battery (assault by beating) is that assault can be verbal or through gesture, whereas battery is physical violence. Most common forms of battery will result in the victims sustaining the following injuries: 

  • Grazes
  • Scratches
  • Abrasions
  • Minor bruising
  • Swellings

If I caused no injury to the victim, can I be charged?

In short, yes!

As said previously, simple gestures or threats that make individuals fear their safety are forms of assault. Therefore, the courts can prosecute an individual even though they may have never inflicted physical violence. 


Have you been accused of assault offence? If so, just give us a quick call on 020 3795 9020.


What punishment can I expect to receive? 

Typically, an individual will receive one of the following punishments for common assault: 

  • Six months imprisonment 
  • A fine
  • Community service

Please note, if you have a previous conviction or the prosecutor proves that you had a particular motivation for the attack, it could result in you receiving a 2-year custodial sentence. For more information, see below. 

How do the courts determine the punishment for common assault?

The two main factors the courts use to determine the severity of a punishment are: 

  • If the assault was against an emergency worker
  • If the offence was racially or religiously aggravated

For common assault against an emergency worker, the maximum sentence is a one-year prison sentence and two years for racially or religiously aggravated offences. 

If the court proves either of the points above, they can progress the offence to an either-way offence. An either-way offence means that either the magistrates’ court or the crown court can determine the punishment. Most commonly, the crown courts deal with more severe types of crimes and have increased sentencing powers. For more information on an either-way offence, click here

Please note that the courts consider various factors when deciding on the punishment for common assault. Therefore, you should always seek legal representation to ensure you have the best chance of success. 

Can common assault charges be dropped?

Common assault charges can be dropped. The most common reasons a common assault charge will be dropped by the courts include:

  • The police do not have sufficient evidence.
  • The victim withdraws the witness statement.
  • The charges are not in the victim’s best interest.

When seeking to have charges dropped by the court, you should always seek a criminal defence lawyer to provide advocacy and legal direction as they will give you the best chance of success. 

Will assault show on an enhanced DBS check?

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is a background check which confirms an applicants record. Typically, employers use this service to prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children.

The charge for common assault is a protected conviction that can be filtered, meaning it is unlikely to show on an enhanced DBS check. However, this is not the case 100% of the time. Please be aware, filtering is the process where you can have your previous convictions and cautions removed. 

How can a lawyer help? 

If you disagree with an allegation for common assault and want to defend against prosecution, you need a criminal defence lawyer. The law surrounding common assault is complex and requires a specialist lawyer. Therefore, using an expert is essential and will give you the best chance of success. 

A criminal defence lawyer that specialises in common assault charges can review the evidence at hand assess if it is substantial to hold up in court. It may be that the evidence collected is not significant enough to lead to the court prosecuting you. 

Are you looking for a lawyer who specialises in common assault matters?

If you have been accused of common assault, we can help.

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